BLOOMSBURG - Loyalsock's fingerprints are once again all over a District 4 Class AA championship plaque.
One year after missing out on a possible 4-peat, the Lancers put together one of the school's and district's most dominant performances this season en route to a fourth district title in five years.
Loyalsock's district championship run culminated Tuesday with a 3-0 semifinal win over Montoursville and a 3-0 finals victory over rival Hughesville at Bloomsburg University.
Members of the Loyalsock District 4 Class AA?girls team tennis champions. Front row:?Kim Levy, Sammie Via, Ashleigh Bair, Emily Kuntz, Mallee Hornberger. Back:?Katie Keith, Anna Newcomer, Coach Rick Zimmerman, Emily Niditch, Anna Criswell, Pam Niditch.
"It was very important to us after having an undefeated season to, as a team, come out and perform and I think we did that," said senior co-captain Emily Niditch.
The undefeated Lancers (18-0) will enter the PIAA team tournament at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the West Branch Tennis Club against the District 2 champion.
Hughesville (16-3) also advances into the state tournament and will play the District 3 champion on Tuesday at a District 3 site.
Loyalsock, who capped a perfect season against District 4 opponents, reached another level of perfection after yesterday's two wins. The Lancers, who finally did drop their first two sets of the season during their semifinal win over Montoursville, didn't surrender a team point this season. Their perfect run through districts included a 3-0 win over Bloomsburg.
Despite being overwhelming favorites at the beginning of the tournament, Loyalsock lived up to all expectations.
"Before the last match, we were telling ourselves that we can't get too overconfident because that is when we don't play well," said senior co-captain Anna Newcomer. "We just came in with an open mind and played our best."
District singles champion Pam Niditch and her sister, district runner-up Emily, each gave the Lancers two team points yesterday. Kim Levy added a third point against Montoursville and the No. 2 doubles team of Anna Criswell and Sammie Via collected one of the three points against Hughesville, a team the Lancers had beaten twice earlier this season.
Emily Niditch, who lost to her sister at Monday's singles championships, had a different, but familiar feeling yesterday. She clinched the team championship for the second time in four years and waited on the court as her teammates quickly unlocked the metal gate and rushed to their elder statesman.
Hughesville advanced to the district final with a gutsy 3-1 win over Bucktail. Courtney McCown needed a pair of tie-breakers at No. 3 singles and at No. 2 singles, Kaylora Thompson dropped the first set before rallying for a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory. The first team point was scored by the No. 1 doubles team of Kierra Croucher and Ansley Galicic, who played with a heavily-taped ankle after a soccer injury.
"Being that we have three ninth-graders and inexperience on our team, we fought hard," said Hughesville coach April M. Brown. "They are gutsy kids. That's what they are. The play hard and give it everything they can give and I can't ask anything more out of them."
The young Spartans, who have two sophomores and three freshmen throughout their lineup, were overmatched against the Lancers.
The top two singles matches featured the four semifinalists from Monday's District 4 Class AA singles championships. Although the matchups were reversed, the results were the same.
Pam Niditch, who dropped just two games in four sets yesterday, repeatedly hit clean and powerful ground strokes past and through her opponent and was the first off the court for the Lancers in the final. Emily, who was consistent during her two sets, dropped just three games in the final.
"Today it was mind over matter," said Emily. "We had to just concentrate on every point. Our team has done so well this year that I wanted to make sure yesterday's events didn't affect me today."
The gold medal for Emily was her school-record tying fifth of her career. She owns three team golds and one each in singles and doubles.
She and Newcomer received the shiny new district plaque from district chairman Roger Heckrote before the plaque was christened with the fingertips of arguably the best team in program history.
"There was a lot of pressure going through the season undefeated and not giving up a point," said Loyalsock coach Rick Zimmerman. "If we didn't finish it today, we may have looked at the year maybe not as successful as it was.
"Now, winning it today, I think you can say that this was the best team I ever coached and probably the best team ever at Loyalsock and one of the best from District 4."
Loyalsock 3, Montoursville 0
1, Pam Niditch, L, def. Nicole Payne 6-0, 6-1; 2, Emily Niditch, L, def. Gabby Horn 7-5, 6-1; 3, Kim Levy, L, def. Natalie Grieco 6-0, 6-3.
1, Ashleigh Bair/Anna Newcomer, L, led Karen Schulte/Lindsay Sweeley 6-1, 4-6, 1-0; 2, Autumn MacInnis/Lexie Holmes, Mtv, led Anna Criswell/Sammie Via 6-4, 4-6, 3-0.
Hughesville 3, Bucktail 1
1, Maria Morgan, B, led Kelsey McCabe 6-2, 4-4; 2, Kaylora Thompson, H, def. Meridith Blessard 3-6, 6-1, 6-2; 3, Courtney McCown, H, def. Abby Ransom 7-6(2), 7-6(4).
1, Kierra Croucher/Ansley Galicic, H, def. Camy Rossell/Kaetha Gentzyel 6-0, 6-2; 2, Mary Fecteau/Marissa Coleman, B, def. Olivia Gorg/Anne Trevouledes 6-4, 6-1.
Loyalsock 3, Hughesville 0
1, Pam Niditch, L, def. Kelsey McCabe 6-0, 6-1; 2, Emily Niditch, L, def. Kaylora Thompson 6-2, 6-1; 3, Kim Levy, L, led Courtney McCowan 6-1, 3-2.
1, Ashleigh Bair/Anna Newcomer, L, led Kierra Croucher/Ansley Galicic 6-4, 2-0; 2, Anna Criswell/Sammie Via, L, def. Olivia Gorg/Anne Trevouledes 6-2, 6-0.
Records: Loyalsock 18-0, Hughesville 16-3. Next: Loyalsock vs. District 2 champ, 2 p.m., Tue., at West Branch Tennis Club; Hughesville vs. District 3 champ, TBA, Tue., at District 3 site