Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on May 5, 2019 at 7:31 pm Contact Andrew: email@example.com | @CraneAndrew Gabriela Knutson swung her water bottle toward her mouth, took one last swig and jogged back onto the court, wrist-bumping doubles partner Miranda Ramirez.Their 5-2, seemingly commanding doubles match lead had turned into a 6-5 deficit behind misplaced rallies, underhit returns, and other errors. Associate head coach Shelley George had just spent the last changeover conversing with Knutson and Ramirez, and now the two needed a win to survive.Two points later, Knutson and Ramirez started at each other again, this time after a Stanford shot tipped the top of the net and bounced past Ramirez. Time and time before, SU faltered against top-tier competition, and Sunday afternoon was no different.Once again, the Orange failed to recover in singles, with only one slot winning the first set. A 4-1 loss to the No. 1-seed Cardinal (24-1, 10-0 Pacific-12) eliminated No. 2-seed Syracuse (14-13, 5-9 Atlantic Coast) from the NCAA tournament and brought its dual-match season to a close. It marked the end of a campaign that included the highest ranking in program history and the first ITA National Team Indoor championship appearance in its 44-year existence. But ultimately, it was a campaign similar to three years ago, one that stuttered in the second round of the tournament.From the first point of their doubles match — when Knutson sent a volley winner that split Stanford’s pair — SU’s top duo appeared in control. They buried their forehands down baselines and stretched Stanford on cross-court backhands, quickly building a four-game lead.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut then Knutson and Ramirez started making the same mistakes that doomed sophomore Sofya Golubovskaya and senior Masha Tritou at second doubles. A makeable overhead smash into the net, a routine service return long, and too many faults on first serves. Syracuse’s doubles pairings, one day after kickstarting a first-round win over Wisconsin, put the Orange into another deficit it wouldn’t overcome.Stanford further built off its 1-0 lead using depth that took over in singles; all six of the Cardinal slots were held by a ranked player, compared to only No. 14 Knutson and No. 99 Ramirez for SU. Knutson jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in her match against Cardinal sophomore Michaela Gordon but won just one game during the rest of her match. Gordon would fire a winner, and Knutson watched it blaze past her down the line. She’d clap her racket at perfectly placed shots and shake her head in disgust, and Knutson never strung together enough shots be competitive. After one final Gordon winner passed by Knutson’s outstretched racket, the SU senior strolled over to her Babolat bag and lightly tossed her racket into it.Minutes after Knutson lost, Ramirez dropped her match 6-4, 6-3 to Caroline Lampl on court three. At set point in the first, she sent a soft one-handed backhand into the net, and followed similar suit to Knutson in the second. Yesterday, junior Guzal Yusupova clinched SU’s win with a straight-set victory, but her 6-2, 6-3 loss gave Stanford its fourth and clinching point. Golubovskaya’s victory at second singles against Stanford senior Melissa Lord injected life into Syracuse, with tight matches at fifth and sixth singles providing opportunities for further points. But Yusupova lost for the fifth time in nine matches and ended the Orange’s season.With the loss, SU has now failed to advance past the round of 32 in all three of its NCAA tournament appearances — 2016, 2018 and this season. Knutson’s season will continue, however, as she is the lone Syracuse representative in the NCAA singles and doubles championships that run from May 20-25 in Orlando, Florida. The SU senior and top singles player earned one of 49 at-large bids and a 9-16 seed, her second consecutive appearance in the tournament.