The Central tennis team planned on a long day Saturday. The Tigers were hopeful that would involve two matches instead of one marathon loss.
Central took Lafayette to the limit on Saturday before succumbing 5-4 in a Class 2 sectional match that lasted more than four hours at Lafayette High School in Wildwood, Mo.
"That was one of the best matches that we have ever been a part of," Lafayette coach Donna Stauffer said. "It was so close and so competitive. Cape Central has come a long way in just a year and that is a tribute to Annette [Slattery]. They are very well taught and very well coached."
Central gave the two-time Suburban Conference champions all they could handle in blustery conditions.
"I thought this would be a very tight match," said Slattery, who returned to coach Central after a four-year absence. "The score did not come out the way we would have liked, but we did all that we could.
"It was very windy with no wind screen. I am sure their hands were numb but there was not one instance where a player complained to me about the conditions. They did their best, and I am very proud of the way they played."
The Tigers split their singles matches with the Lancers. Lafayette won at the top three singles spots with two of those went to three sets.
Central had wins at the bottom of the singles lineup from senior Liz LaFoe at No. 4 and from freshmen Sarah Ford and Lindsey Pingel at No. 5 and 6, respectively. Ford's and Pingel's victories came in straight sets.
The match was decided in doubles.
Lafayette standout freshman Gabriela Demos and her partner, Meghan Scobie, defeated Central's state qualifying team of Dani Gross and Brett Ford at No. 1 doubles. But, once again, the Tigers prevailed as Ford and Pingel teamed up for a straight-set win at No. 3 doubles.
In No. 2 doubles, Lafayette's Carrie Faist and Rachel Costello won the first set handily at 6-1, but Monica Toole and LaFoe made things interesting in the second set. The score was tied 5-5 before the Lancers' duo won the final two games and clinched a spot in the quarterfinals.
"We felt very fortunate to come out on top," Stauffer said. "Cape Central is the most balanced team we have faced from one to six. They all basically play the same style of tennis, and it is very effective. They were tough as nails, and they handled the wind better than we did, especially early in the match."
Lafayette lost 5-0 later Saturday to Class 2 power St. Joseph's Academy, which qualified for the state's final four for the 12th straight year.