Plymouth ousts Bremen at semis

BREMEN — A loss isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. Take Marissa Ross’ and Holly Stogsdill’s loss to Glenn’s Kyler Columbia and Allison Pudlo at last Saturday’s Northern State Conference meet.
The Triton duo seemed to have learned a few lessons in that defeat to their Glenn 1 doubles counterparts, and last Thursday they found the opportunity to apply them.
Ross and Stogsdill battled from behind to pull off a dramatic 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 win over Columbia and Pudlo, avenging two earlier losses this season and finishing off a 4-1 Lady Trojans’ win over the Falcons at the Bremen Girls Tennis Sectional semifinals at DeSantis Courts Thursday. Triton advanced to face 12-time defending champion Plymouth, another 4-1 winner over the host Lady Lions Thursday in Friday’s championship.
Meanwhile in the other semifinal match-up Thursday, Plymouth cruised to the championship with a 4-1 victory over its hosts in a rematch of last year’s championship.
The Pilgrims won on all courts but 1 singles as Mikayla German beat Alexa Harshbarger 6-3, 6-2, and Carly Berger beat Andrea Strehler 7-5, 6-4 at 2 and 3 singles, while Andria Shook and Marissa German combined for a 6-0, 6-4 win over Bremen No. 1s Cassie Sears and Haley Foster, and Emily Blake and Ellen Smith topped Heidi Prawat and Haley Moren 6-0, 6-2 on the doubles courts.
“We have a tremendous amount of respect for Bremen’s program. (Bremen coaches) Mark (Wagner) and Andrew (Rohde), they do things the right way, and especially coming over here on their home court, you know they’re going to give you a battle,” said Plymouth coach Brad Haeck. “They battled us really close last year, and we knew that they were going to give us their best effort. They’ve had a tremendous season, and we came out and we really played well today. This is a good team win for us.”
“I don’t know if we played our best tennis, but we did play very, very well,” said Bremen head coach Rohde. “The one thing we always talk about is we always need to battle and just give our maximum effort, and we did that tonight all throughout every single match. Andrea at 3 singles had a set point in the first set; she gets that point and maybe it changes some things. But I’m so proud of them, the way they played. We played smart, and we played mentally strong.”
While the Pilgrims moved on to Friday’s team title match, Bremen No. 1 Morgan Smith remained unbeaten on the season and alive in the singles state tournament with her 6-2, 6-3 win over Allie Berger. Smith advanced alone to the LaPorte Regional as a sophomore last year, ultimately falling to Angola’s Marina Fernandez 6-1, 6-4.
“You just never know how it’s going to happen and who’s going to pop up, and now it’s going to get to some people that we’re not as familiar with,” said Rohde. “She’ll just have to keep playing strong and keep practicing and keep getting better.”
Thursday’s semifinal loss came on the heels of a 5-0 sweep of LaVille in the tournament opener on Wednesday.
Although the Lions fell short of their ultimate goal of unseating their area rivals Thursday, the team took away plenty of positives from a 12-2 season in which the Lions were crowned undisputed NSC champions earlier this week with two individual conference champions in Smith and Harshbarger. Foster and Prawat will graduate, but the rest of the team should be back and reloaded for next year.
“One of the things that we talk about is that we’re always reloading and not rebuilding, but we are going to miss Haley Foster and Heidi Prawat a lot,” Rohde said. “They’re great senior leaders; they showed toughness — they’re both one-year varsity players and that just shows that you can work for four years and make the top seven, so I appreciate the work that they put in. We really did have such a great year win/ loss-wise, but we did so much more than that. We had so much fun together and we learned a lot, so it was really a great season.”
“I appreciate (assistant coach) Mark so much, and I know the girls do too,” Rohde added. “He puts a lot of time and effort into the tennis season. It wouldn’t be as fun without him, and we wouldn’t be as successful without him.”