Jennifer Sherman has known for quite some time that her Notre Dame Academy-Hingham girls’ tennis team is special, and the Division 2 South tournament has validated that belief.
The second-seeded Cougars outlasted the third-seeded Dragons, 3-2, in the sectional semifinals on Thursday in Hingham. Four out of five matches were tight, two went to three sets, and there was plenty of suspense the entire way.
NDA (12-0) ultimately found a way at first singles, first doubles, and second doubles, as Alex Prudente (6-1, 6-0, at 1 singles), Bella La Grassa and Amelia Maw (6-0, 6-4, at 1 doubles), and Sarah Link and Meghan Ravanesi (6-1, 4-6, 6-2, at 2 doubles) ended up on top.
“Out of the seven years I’ve been coaching, this is the most talented team I’ve ever seen,” Sherman said. “Every match that they come to, every practice that they come to, it’s will, determination, and desire.”
That starts with the James Madison-bound senior standout Prudente (Hanover), who improved to 82-8 overall in her storied career. Duxbury’s Sophia Caslin was gritty and made Prudente work, but Prudente was ultimately too overpowering.
“She got some really good balls back,” Prudente said. “I was really impressed with some of the angles that she hit. I’ve been training a lot, so I think I’ve just been hitting my targets really well. I think that’s how I won today.”
The first doubles team then withstood a late surge from Nora Buell and Annabel Keating to make it 2-0 NDA. Duxbury freshman Caroline Sutliffe, who finished the season 16-0, cruised to a 6-3, 6-0 triumph at third singles to make it 2-1 NDA.
Cara Cass and Emmie Lloyd fended off three match points at second doubles for Duxbury (15-1), but Ravanesi and Link formed a dangerous 1-2 punch to seal the match. Elise Hogan gutted out a 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3 win at second singles to cap a strong career, however the match had been decided at that point.
It was a fierce battle between two perennially strong programs, and the Cougars advanced to the South final vs. top-seeded Foxborough on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Foxborough.
Said Sherman: “I can’t speak more highly of the girls.”
Division 1 semifinal
Milton 20, Lincoln-Sudbury 15 — Senior Michael Swanton scored the go-ahead try from 20 yards out with 10 minutes left before the top-seeded Wildcats (5-0) stopped the visiting Warriors on 20 consecutive attempts from the five-yard line in the final minutes to secure the thrilling semifinal win.
Alex Perez-Ruiz and Amari Marsman also recorded tries for Milton, which won the Division 2 state title in 2018 and 2019. Now bumped up a division, the Wildcats will host BC High in the Division 1 state final next Wednesday at 6 p.m.
“The final five minutes were just incredible,” said Milton coach Joe Dolan, a BC High alum. “It was a great game and we played smart defense with good tackling all game long. We’re excited for the state title and we need to play our style of rugby.”
Division 2 semifinal
Cambridge 47, Hingham 14 — Seniors Nick Oliveira-Chase, Taivon Barker, Kaleb Moore-Pugh, and Woodley Felix each recorded a pair of tries as the top-seeded Falcons (5-0) opened a 33-0 halftime lead and cruised to the semifinal home win.
Cambridge coach Jesse Nocon said he knew Hingham would be intense and physical in the first 10 minutes. After weathering the storm, Moore-Pugh started the scoring with an 80-yard try and the Falcons offense took from there.
“We focused on being calm, clear, and collected all week in practice,” said Nocon. “We knew the first 10 minutes would be tough but after that we stretched the field sideline to sideline and worked together with lots of pace.”
Cambridge advances to host Algonquin in the state final next Wednesday (6 p.m.) at Russell Field. The Falcons lost in the 2019 state final to Milton.
“We’re motivated to win it this time around and we know how to handle pressure,” said Nocon.
Division 2 South
Hopkinton 4, Westwood 1 — The second-seeded Hillers (15-1) certainly earned every point of their semifinal victory over their Tri-Valley League rival. At first singles, senior Aidan Yagoobi pulled out a 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 victory, and sophomore Adam Glace survived, 6-4, 4-6, 10-7 in a third-set tiebreaker. At second doubles, senior Thomas Guerra and sophomore Andrew Palacios prevailed, 6-4, 6-4. Lex Kaye cruised, 6-0, 6-0, at second singles. Next up: top-seeded and host Duxbury (15-0) in Friday’s final at 5.
Division 3 South
Dover-Sherborn 5, Cohasset 0 — The second-seeded Raiders (18-0) started their sweep with a 6-0, 6-0 win from senior Ben Churney/junior Cole Hader at first doubles on their way to the semifinal victory. Cameron Moghaddam earned the second point at No. 3 singles, 6-0, 6-1, and Dan Pomahac netted the clincher, 6-2, 6-1, at first singles.
Division 3 Central/East
Dover-Sherborn 16, Medway 7 — The No. 1 Raiders (15-2) captured their seventh straight Division 3 Central/East sectional title. Bradley Peterson led D-S with five goals, one of three players with at least three goals.
Trevor Hass reported from Hingham. Correspondents Matthew Doherty, Adam Doucette and Emma Healy also contributed.