MALIBU, Calif.- No. 40 Stanford dropped a 4-2 decision to No. 20 LSU on Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Playing with a shuffled lineup that was missing two regulars, the Cardinal (12-12, 3-4 Pac-12) battled before falling short and exiting the postseason in the opening round for the first time in school history.
Making its 35th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance overall, Stanford grabbed a 1-0 lead by capturing the doubles point for the 17th time in 24 matches. An area of strength all season long, the Cardinal received an 8-6 victory from its No. 2 duo of Maciek Romanowicz and Robert Stineman at the No. 2 spot after the first two matches had split.
LSU (16-11, 5-9 SEC) quickly flipped the script in singles, picking up three victories in a row to take a 3-1 lead. Olivier Borsos evened the match with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Nolan Paige at the No. 3 spot. The Tigers moved in front 2-1 following a 6-0, 6-2 triumph from Stefan Szacinski on court two over Matt Kandath, who was playing his first match in three months since returning from injury.
LSU later added insurance when Tam Trinh put away Denis Lin 7-6 (5), 6-3 at the No. 6 position. Lin was appearing in just his third dual match of the year.
Daniel Ho answered with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Boris Arias at the No. 5 spot, trimming the deficit to 3-2.
Chris Simpson then provided the clincher with a 7-5, 6-1 win over John Morrissey in a battle of top-50 players at the top spot of the lineup.
Stanford was also without the services of Trey Strobel (injury), who was riding an eight-match winning streak and tied for a share of the team lead in wins (21).
Friday's loss put the finishing touches on a season in which Stanford improved tremendously since January. The Cardinal, which battled until the final weekend to lock up an at-large postseason berth, navigated through a grueling schedule that featured nine opponents ranked among the top-20 while finishing fourth in one of the nation's most challenging conferences. Quality wins over opponents such as Texas Tech, BYU and Washington (twice) helped build a strong case for the NCAA Tournament.
Stanford figures to be well-positioned for the future with several key pieces returning, as this year's singles lineup down the stretch featured three freshmen, two sophomores and a junior.
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No. 20 LSU 4, No. 40 Stanford 2
1) No. 54 Denis Lin/Morrissey (STAN) d. No. 31 Szacinski/Trinh (LSU) 8-6
2) Romanowicz/Stineman (STAN) d. Roger Anderson/Borsos (LSU) 8-6
3) Arias/Simpson (LSU) d. Jamin Ball/Ho (STAN) 8-5
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2
1) No. 42 Chris Simpson (LSU) d. No. 50 John Morrissey (STAN) 7-5, 6-1
2) No. 91 Stefan Szacinski (LSU) d. Matt Kandath (STAN) 6-0, 6-2
3) Olivier Borsos (LSU) d. Nolan Paige (STAN) 6-1, 6-1
4) Maciek Romanowicz (STAN) vs. Mark Bowtell (LSU) abandoned
5) Daniel Ho (STAN) d. Boris Arias (LSU) 6-2, 6-4
6) Tam Trinh (LSU) d. Denis Lin (STAN) 7-6 (5), 6-3
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 6, 5, 1