CHAMPIONS!: #3 Stonehill Captures Fifth NE-10 Title

Third-seeded Skyhawks win second championship in three years by topping 4th-seeded Merrimack, 5-3

Kump named Tournament MVP as double-winner, including clinching point at #2 singles 

Junior Analise Kump clinched the championship with her straight-sets win at No. 2 singles and earned Tournament MVP honors. (PHOTO BY Emily Reynolds)

EASTON, Mass. (October 26, 2014) – Third-seeded Stonehill College, ranked ninth in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division II East Regional rankings, won its second Northeast-10 Conference women's tennis championship in three years with a 5-3 victory over fourth-seeded Merrimack College, ranked sixth in the region, at Charles Watt Tennis Courts this afternoon.

Stonehill (13-2, 10-2 NE-10) posts its fifth Northeast-10 postseason tournament championship in program history with the win, giving head coach Marc Maloney a championship in his first season as head coach, and the third since 1999 in the current dual match format. The Skyhawks, whose spring schedule will be announced over the winter, earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament next May. Merrimack (11-5, 8-4 NE-10), who were the defending NE-10 Tournament champions, saw their bid for a fourth championship overall come up just short.

"These women have been unbelievable all year, and definitely played up with it counted the most this week," said Maloney. "This program has such high standards, the team showed such grit and determination down the stretch and were so resilient by working their way to the championship as the No. 3 seed. They made my job so easy in my first year with them."

Junior Analise Kump (Falmouth, Maine/Falmouth) earned Most Valuable Player honors for the NE-10 Tournament and led the Stonehill double-winners this afternoon, clinching the championship with her 6-3, 6-3 triumph at No. 2 singles against Merrimack senior Shakee Messina (Caracas, Venezuela).

"I wouldn't pick anyone else to be out there for that point than Analise," said Maloney. "She's so mentally tough and physically tough to have battled through some injuries this fall to the point where she can't even practice between matches. To go out and perform like that against a senior who has had tremendous success in the Conference is just nothing short of an amazing performance."

Kump also teamed up with freshman Victoria Barbetta (Wesley Chapel, Florida/Saddlebrook Prep) for a key 8-4 decision at No. 2 doubles against Messina and senior Rachel Muller (North Andover, Massachusetts/North Andover) to give the Skyhawks a key 2-1 edge following doubles play.

Senior co-captain Meryl Lawrence accepts the championship trophy from NE-10 associate commissioner Kerri Fagan. (PHOTO BY Emily Reynolds)

"That team has been so coachable this season," said Maloney. "We kind of mixed things up later in the year and the two of them were so willing to do whatever the team needed, and what the coaches asked from a strategy standpoint and attack points. They have been a rock late in the season."

Barbetta, who joined Kump and classmate Colleen O'Donnell (Waterville, Maine/Waterville) on the All-Championship team, was also among the double-winners for Stonehill. Barbetta breezed to a 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 4 singles against freshman Danielle Dunn (Middleton, Massachusetts/Masconomet) to put Stonehill back in front 4-3 in the dual match after Merrimack had won two of the first three singles matches. O'Donnell rounded out the double-winners for Stonehill as she combined with senior Meryl Lawrence (North Scituate, Rhode Island/Mount Saint Charles Academy) to rally for an 8-6 win over Dunn and freshman Mackenzie Blair (Thomaston, Connecticut/Thomaston) at No. 3 doubles after trailing early on in the match. O'Donnell also earned the Skyhawks first singles point with her 6-1, 6-0 win against Blair at No. 6.

Lawrence's match at No. 5 singles against Muller went unfinished after the Stonehill senior had forced a third set, which she was leading 2-1, with a 6-3 score in the second set after Muller had won the opening set 6-4.

Sophomore Grace Messina (Caracas, Venezuela), the two-time NE-10 Player of the Year, and senior Chealsey Giatrelis (Centreville, Massachusetts/Barnstable) joined Kump, Barbetta and O'Donnell on the NE-10 All-Championship Team for Merrimack. The duo combined for all three of the Warriors points in the contest, starting with an 8-4 win at No. 1 doubles for an early 1-0 lead. Giatrelis added a 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 3 singles against Stonehill freshman Emma Prinos (Foxboro, Massachusetts/Foxboro), while Messina posted a 6-2, 6-1 win at No. 1 singles against junior Bailey Paradiso (Birmingham, Michigan/Marian) to pull Merrimack even 3-3 in the match.

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