By Nick Curcuru
---- — When Division 3 North Champion Manchester Essex meets Division 3 South Champion Cohasset today in the Division 3 State Semifinals at Newton South High School (3:30 p.m.) it will truly be a clash of the Titans.
The Hornets were clearly the class of the North section rolling through it with relative ease with the exception of a hard fought match against always a formidable Bedford team. No team could match the talent and resume Manchester Essex brought to the table.
Cohasset, however, is a team that can match the Hornets talent, maybe the first team all season, and has the resume to go with it after rolling through the South section while barely breaking a sweat.
The teams enter today’s highly anticipated state semifinal tilt with a combined record of 41-0 (Manchester Essex 20-0, Cohasset 21-0) and each enter with rosters loaded with talent from top to bottom.
The match was originally scheduled to be played Monday, just a day after Cohasset clinched the South sectional title with a win over Ursuline. But inclement weather pushed the match back to this afternoon, where two titans with plenty of rest and plenty of wins will vie for a spot in the state title game.
“Across the board it’s going to be a battle,” Manchester Essex head coach Phil Logsdon said. “I’m expecting a lot of great tennis and a lot of points in every match. They aren’t used to losing and neither are we. It’s going to be a battle royale, our most interesting match of the season.”
Today’s winner will move on to the Division 3 State Championship Game on Friday at St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury (3:30 p.m.). Division 3 West Champion Monument Mountain awaits the winner after topping Division 3 Central Champion Sutton in its state semifinal match.
The state semifinal’s marquee matchup will be at No. 1 singles where two unbeaten players with impressive resumes will square off. Manchester Essex’s Brittany Collens, a New Mexico St. University bound senior and North Sectional Individual Finalist, will meet Emma Davis of Cohasset, the South Sectional Individual Champion.
With two of the states best players who are unbeaten in team play facing off, something’s gotta give.
“That’s going to be a tough match, both players are used to winning big but this one isn’t a lock either way,” Logsdon said. “I’m very interested in seeing how this match goes. It’s going to be a test of will, both have the obvious talent and the drive to make it a great match.”
The intriguing matchups don’t end there, however, as Logsdon says neither team can pencil in a point at all five spots in the lineup.
The No. 1 doubles matchup also pits two very strong teams as the once beaten tandem of Rachel Daley and Chanel Bullock of Manchester Essex will meet Kate Sookiasian and Meredith Spofford of Cohasset, who have not lost a match in the tournament.
Unbeaten No. 2 singles Michelle Fuca will meet Cohasset’s Emma Smith, Kendall McCormick squares off with Sara Corry at No. 3 singles and Molly Carlson and Avery St. Sauveur face Gabrielle Lemoine and Bri Crough at No. 2 doubles.
“We match up well with each other all through the lineup,” Logsdon said. “Both teams have to bring their A game. It’s so closely contested it’s going to come down to whoever plays well (today). The girls are very excited for the match, they want this bad and they’re determined to get it.”
Division 3 State Semifinals At a Glance :Who: North Champion Manchester Essex (20-0) vs. South Champion Cohasset (21-0) What: Division 3 State Semifinals Where: Newton South High School When: Today (3:00 p.m.) What's At Stake: A trip to the Division 3 State Championship Friday against West Champion Monument Mountain. Starting Lineup: No. 1 singles, Brittany Collens (ME) vs. Emma Davis (C); No. 2 singles, Michelle Fuca (ME) vs. Emma Smith (C); No. 3 singles, Kendall McCormick (ME) vs. Sara Corry (C); No. 1 doubles, Rachel Daley and Chanel Bullock (ME) vs. Kate Sookiasian and Meredith Spofford (C); No. 2 doubles, Molly Carlson and Avery St. Sauveur (ME) vs. Gabrielle Lemoine and Bri Crough (C).