The women’s squash team wrapped up its final weekend with rematches against the only three teams it has lost to this season and a Player of the Year award.
At the 2007 edition of the Howe Cup tournament at the Brady Squash Center, where 30 teams from around the country come together to compete for the national title, Yale finished a respectable fourth. Although they walked away from the tournament without a first-place trophy for the first time since 2003, the Elis were proud of their performance and ecstatic about Player of the Year honors for Catherine McLeod ’07.
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On Friday, the women’s squash team kicked off its Howe Cup campaign with dreams of defending its title and avenging this season’s losses. Edged out by Trinity 5-4 earlier in the year, the Elis were excited to get another chance. The Bantams had given them their first loss of 2007 on Jan. 23 in Hartford, and the Bulldogs welcomed their guests to New Haven in a similar fashion, reversing the score and defeating them, 5-4.
“To beat Trinity in itself was a really great victory, especially on our home courts,” Tara Wadhwa ’09 said. “Going into the match, we didn’t take anything for granted. Coming back, it was one of our best wins all season.”
The victory gave Yale the ticket to the next stage of the Cup, where it faced No. 1 seed Princeton. Having suffered a 6-3 loss to the Tigers on the same courts a fortnight ago, the Elis went into the match expecting a tough battle ahead of them. Despite a valiant effort and good performances all around from the Yale women on Saturday, the Tigers prevailed, 7-2. McLeod and Alia Aziz ’10 picked up victories, exhibiting the mixture of experience and youth on the Yale side. Princeton went on to win the Howe Cup, defeating Harvard, 6-3, on Sunday to end a perfect season.
“We always think positively,” Elisabeth Hill ’08 said. “We were really happy to get the chance to play Princeton after beating Trinity … We were solid out there but it just didn’t work — it just wasn’t our match. If we could play it over again, there is no one thing that we could change.”
Yale still stood a chance to claim third place, the decider being Sunday’s matchup against Penn. The Quakers had previously defeated the Bulldogs, 6-3, in December in what was their first loss of the season, and would go on to knock off the Elis by the same score yesterday.
“Even though we lost, I think we played really well and put our hearts into it,” Sarah Barenbaum ’08 said. “I don’t think anything went wrong, it was just not meant to be.”
The Elis had an evenly spread out schedule with at least a few days, if not a week, between each dual match throughout the season. The Howe Cup stretched players’ physical and mental capacities, however, with three matches in a span of three days. The Cup was supposed to mark the end of the regular season for the Elis, but due to the postponement of last Wednesday’s Harvard-Yale match because of bad weather, the Elis will not be able to rest until after Wednesday.
Despite a less-than-perfect ending to their season, the Bulldogs were proud of their performance and exhibited spirit both on and off the court.
“It’s most important as a team to stay together, whether we win or lose,” Wadhwa said. “It’s just 14 girls representing Yale on one team, and we’d rather be nowhere else.”
Ending the team’s season of ups and down on a high note, McLeod — who had won a string of national titles in years prior — finished her Yale squash career at the top. Following an undefeated season, McLeod won the Player of the Year award at the Howe Cup banquet on Saturday night.