AMHERST, Mass. -- Simmons defeated Gwynedd-Mercy 5-2 in the first round of the 2014 Division III NCAA championships on Thursday afternoon at Amherst.

The Sharks took a 2-1 lead after doubles play as sophomore Rachael Downey teamed up with first-year Sofie Epshtein to defeat Rachel Fein and Taylor Michener 8-6 in the No. 1 position, while sophomore Katie Crowley and first year Theresa Reinhard swept Kellie Booth and Jenna Caffarello 8-0 in the No. 3 spot. The Griffins took the No. 2 match as Gabrielle Muller and Kristen Kriebel defeated Meghan Cokely and Caroline Khoury 8-5.

With the one-point lead heading into singles play, Simmons took the first four matches to secure the victory. Reinhard defeated Fein 6-3, 6-3 at the No. 1 position, Cokely topped Michener 6-1, 6-1 at the No. 2 spot, and Epshtein defeated Muller 6-0, 6-3 at No. 3 singles. Completing the victory for the Sharks was Downey, who defeated Kriebel 6-0, 6-1 at the No. 4 position to advance the Sharks to the NCAA second round for the first time since 2010.

The Sharks (14-5) will face MIT (16-4) at 9 a.m. ET Friday at Amherst in the second round of the tournament. The neighbors previously faced off on Apr. 25 in Cambridge, when the Engineers swept the Sharks 9-0.