Princeton gets program's first NCAA tournament opening-round victory
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Stacked up against Arizona State, a comparison of history didn't favor Princeton, making the program's fifth NCAA tournament appearance. That didn't matter Friday as the Tigers earned a 4-3 victory for the program's first NCAA tournament win.
Princeton had no victories in any of its previous four NCAA appearances, while Arizona State was making its 27th consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament and has been as far as the quarterfinals in 2001.
The win required a short memory and left no room to get discouraged after early setbacks. Princeton fought for more than an hour and a half for a doubles point it didn't get, with Emily Hahn and Amanda Muliawan winning on court No. 2 before ASU held off rallies on court Nos. 3 and 1 to take the 1-0 lead in the match.
Muliawan, who missed Princeton's last league weekend on April 19-20, brought Princeton back to even with her win on court No. 3, but ASU won on court Nos. 4 and 5 to put Princeton on the brink of elimination. The Tigers led on court Nos. 1, 2 and 6 and needed all three to take the match.
The situation asked, and Princeton gave just that. First, Ivy League Player of the Year Lindsay Graff finished off a straight-set win against ASU's Stephanie Vlad. Then, Katie Goepel chipped in a three-set win, rallying against Joanna Smith after losing the first set.
That left it up to Wolff. She learned last week that this wouldn't be her last match of the spring as she gained a berth in the NCAA singles tournament. Wolff won't be able to take her team with her to that, but was able to bring the rest of the Tigers along for at least one more day.
"It was honestly so nerve-wracking," Wolff said of having the match on her shoulders. "I tried not to look over at the team and just stay focused on the match."
Joining Goepel among Tigers who had to shrug off first-set losses in order to take the match, Wolff delivered a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win against Desirae Krawczyk, who also has a bid to the NCAA singles tournament later this month.
Krawczyk and Wolff can renew acquaintances there, but until then, the Tigers will have the NCAA second-round to play on Saturday. Alabama, the regional host, is Princeton's next opponent.