Women's Tennis Wins Thriller to Clinch Playoff Berth

Saturday, April 26, 2014
 

Women's lacrosse Baseball, softball
Track & field, men's lacrosse, men's tennis

Sara Finger didn’t know for certain that the Muhlenberg women’s tennis team’s playoff hopes rested on her shoulders, but she had an inkling that her third set at No. 1 singles held some big implications.

“I think I knew it all came down to me because the whole team came to watch and support me,” Finger said. “I tried not to worry about the total score and just focus on my own match.”

Jennifer Goldberg Finger did – and the Mules are headed to the Centennial Conference playoffs because of it. The freshman pulled out a 6-4 decision in the decisive set to clinch a 5-4 victory in a play-in match at Dickinson that propelled Muhlenberg into the postseason for the first time in three years. The Mules earned the fifth and final seed and will travel to fourth-seeded Swarthmore for a first-round clash on Wednesday.

“It’s such a great feeling [knowing my match clinched it],” said Finger, who also teamed with junior Sharen Resnikoff for a victory at No. 2 doubles. “This was my goal for the team: to make it to the playoffs. My goal has been made and we couldn’t be any prouder of the team. It is so nice because we all contributed. It was a total team effort.”

The Mules (8-4 spring, 7-3 CC) looked to be in great shape after sweeping the doubles for the first time all season. Senior co-captains Nina Sanders and Emily Szulman were 8-5 winners at first doubles, while Finger and Resnikoff posted an 8-4 decision at No. 2. Senior Gabriela Contino and junior Jennifer Goldberg made it a clean sweep, battling back from a 7-4 deficit to secure a 9-8 result at No. 3. As it turned out, that rally would come in rather handy for the Mules.

“That,” Finger said, “was such a crucial match.”

The Red Devils stormed back, however, winning at No. 5, No. 2, No. 3 and then No. 6 singles to grab a 4-3 lead. That left Finger at first and Goldberg at fourth, with the Mules needing both to come through to punch their playoff ticket. They did.

Goldberg (right) was next off the court after prevailing 7-5 in the third set. That left it to Finger, who found herself in a do-or-die third set of her own with the season on the line. The rookie came through, jumping out to a 4-1 lead and holding on from there to send the Mules to the postseason. Finger said she knew the match was close, but wasn’t aware that the team’s fate was entirely in her hands.

“I actually didn’t have much of an idea,” she said. “I knew Jen was one of the last matches so I was hoping she was in the lead, but I was kind of just keeping on going with my own match for the team. I was thinking about winning my match and keeping my head in it. I didn’t think about the score.”

Last year, Muhlenberg was on the short end of a three-way tiebreaker for the final CC playoff berth. The Mules left no doubt this time around after coming through when they had to.

“It shows the toughness and guts that everyone has,” Finger said. “No one was giving up.”
Click here for box score.