Powerful Tigers edge w. squash

The Brady Squash Center reverberated with the din of strident spectators out on a cold Saturday afternoon to show their support for the women’s squash team. Judging from the calls of encouragement and cheering that lasted right until the very end, they were certainly not entirely disappointed — despite a Yale loss.

The Elis could not manage to pull off a victory in a closely contested encounter with Ancient Eight foe Princeton, falling 6-3. Several players and audience members said the match was impressive and the day as a whole went well, despite the loss.

“[Princeton] had an incredibly solid, deep team right through their entire lineup.” Lauren McCrery ’07 said. “I think that even in their top nine they have seven No. 4s. We knew it was going to be a really tough match going in. Everyone came out feeling pretty good. We lost but didn’t feel too upset. There were a couple matches could have gone either way.”

The Tigers came into the match having clinched 6-3 and 7-2 wins over Trinity and Penn, respectively, earlier in the week at home. Princeton entered the week at No. 5 in the national rankings and left New Haven on Saturday confident that they would take over the No. 1 spot this week.

The Elis had suffered close losses to both the Bantams and Quakers earlier in the season. Playing at the No. 1 spot, Catherine McLeod ’07 defeated Princeton’s Claire Rein-Weston 3-0. McLeod said the Tigers proved to be tough opponents.

“[Princeton team members] were obviously really well prepared and fired up to beat us after coming off really good wins.” McLeod said. “They outplayed us with their momentum. Our confidence had been shaken a bit from our losses, but we played well and fought hard. We were outplayed, and I guess they performed a little bit higher than us yesterday.”

Team members said they were satisfied with their performance despite the loss and were appreciative of the crowd’s support.

The audience included students and alumni cheering on, an impromptu performance by some of the Baker’s Dozen and words of wisdom from last year’s No. 1 and No. 2 Michelle Quibell ’06 and Amy Gross ’06.

“The support we had yesterday was awesome. Even the Princeton players commented on how many fans we had,” McCrery said. “Everyone was really excited, and we could really feed off everyone’s energy and get psyched. There were a lot of people there who hadn’t seen squash before, and it was great to see them come out and support is. It really pumped us up.”

Team and audience members alike commented on Jessica Balderston’s ’09 marathon five-game match against Princeton’s Carly Grabowski. Grabowski had not suffered a single loss in regular season dual meets in three years, but No. 8 Balderston fought hard to give Grabowski her first taste of loss in her collegiate career, defeating her, 3-2, with scores of 3-9, 9-3, 9-10, 9-7, 9-6.

“Yesterday was the best win of my career, so that was really great. I was really satisfied with the way I played.” Balderston said. “The match was over an hour and half long, and I was really glad that I could pull it out.”

The Bulldogs have a busy schedule for the remainder of the season. On Saturday, they play Brown at home and then travel to Cambridge to face longtime Ivy rivals Harvard on Feb. 14. The tough stretch will culminate with a showdown in New Haven on Feb. 17th and 18th at the Howe Cup tournament. Players sounded confident of their chances against Brown and said they were focusing on the Howe Cup.

“It’s a good thing that we’re playing [Harvard] the week of the Howe cup.” McCrery said. “It’ll get us much more geared up. Since the Howe Cup is at home, it’ll be more exciting and give us a chance to get more into it. It’s definitely an advantage to have it here and will help us get focused and ready.”

Several players said the Bulldogs have a good shot against No. 4 Harvard. The Crimson have a tough week ahead of them as they face Trinity, Penn and Princeton in a seven-day span before squaring off against Yale. Players said it would be good for them to see how Harvard fares in the coming week before facing them.

“We’re training hard now and are going to continue to throughout this week.” McLeod said. “We need to take all of what we have and put it into the game, and hopefully it will be enough.”

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