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Lead squandered in loss to Northwestern

Anne Loughery | Friday, April 16, 2004

It wasn’t supposed to end this way.Notre Dame was ahead 2-0 early in Thursday’s meet after sweeping doubles and a quick win at No. 6 courtesy of junior Sarah Jane Connelly. A win looked promising for the No. 24 Irish. Their lead suddenly eroded and No. 11 Northwestern went on to win four of the six singles matches for a 4-3 victory. As the sun set, the remaining singles matches were moved inside. Northwestern held the lead at 3-2 and both teams’ success depended on the outcomes of the Nos. 4 and 5 singles matches. The Irish came up short at No. 4, with sophomore Lauren Connelly falling to Jamie Peisel 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 7-6 (7-4) to give the Wildcats a 4-2 lead. At No. 6 sophomore Kiki Stastny rebounded from a 1-4 deficit in the third set to win 6-7, 7-5, 7-5, “They handled the pressure very well,” Irish coach Jay Louderback said. “Because they were playing right next to each other, they knew exactly what was going on in the next court. That’s tough because you really have to focus on your own match and putting the team away.”In No. 1 doubles, freshmen Catrina and Christian Thompson upset the No. 2 nationally ranked team of Christelle Grier and Jessica Rush 9-8 (7-5). At No. 2, senior Alicia Salas and sophomore Lauren Connelly triumphed against Peisel and Alexis Prousis 8-5. Junior Sarah Jane Connelly and senior Emily Neighbours registered a win at No. 3 against Ruth Barnes and Andrea Yung 9-7. Singles victories came from No. 5 Stastny and No. 6 Sarah Jane Connelly, who defeated Connie Chiang 6-1, 6-3. Louderback said he expected a challenging meet at all positions on the court. “It was a fun meet to watch because they’re such a good team,” Louderback said. “We played well and fought hard, but it was just a wasted opportunity for us.” The Irish travel to face Purdue on Wednesday.