Many postseason collegiate sporting events bring with them upsets and Cinderella stories; George Mason basketball, Boise State football — the list goes on and on. This season, women’s squash proved to be a little different.
In a season full of predictable results, the College Squash Association national tournament proved no different. Besides the national championship match, all favorites defeated their lower-seeded foes. Consequently, the third-seeded Bulldogs (13-3, 5-3 Ivy) were able to cruise by sixth-seeded Dartmouth (10-7, 2-5) 9-0 on Friday, saw their Howe Cup pursuit end with a 7-2 loss on Saturday against second-seeded and eventual Howe Cup-winner Princeton (11-2, 8-1), and finally defeated fifth-seeded Trinity (14-4) Sunday in the third-place match.
Unlike most other college sports, there isn’t much parity in college squash.
“I think the top four teams are all close, but on paper Penn and Princeton are the top teams,” explained captain Miranda Ranieri ’08. “It’s definitely a toss-up between them.”
The Elis were able to cruise past the Big Green for the second time this season after handling them on Jan. 19 by a score of 8-1. Like the first time around, the Bulldogs dropped a total of four games in the entire match — leading to a combined game score of 45-4 over the nine match-ups on Friday. The closest match occurred at the No. 5 spot. Caroline Reigeluth ’11 dropped the first and fourth games before taking the fifth and deciding game, 9-4.
Saturday afternoon did not bring such success for the Bulldogs. After dominating Brown (6-8, 1-6), 9-0, on Friday, Princeton came up in the brackets for the Elis on Saturday. Already with a 6-3 loss on their record to Princeton from a Feb. 2 road match, Yale was unable to pull off the win this time in a weekend lacking upsets. Although the final result may seem lopsided, the Bulldogs found themselves with a chance to win four matches.
Captain Miranda Ranieri ’08 and No. 2 Logan Greer ’11 easily handled their opponents, combining to win by the score of 6-1. The No. 3 and 4 spots brought heartache for the Elis. Sarah Toomey ’11 and Alia Aziz ’10 each lost in intense 3-2 matches. Toomey took on Princeton’s Jackie Moss and found herself with a 2-1 edge through three games. However, the freshman could not put Moss away and dropped the last two games, 9-1 and 10-8. Aziz was able to tie the match going into the fifth game but ultimately fell 9-7 in the final game.
The Tigers easily captured the five remaining matches by a score of 15-1 — the lone Bulldog game came from No. 6 Jessica Balderston.
The loss sent the Bulldogs to the third-place match against in-state rival Trinity on Sunday. The Bantams were coming off tough loss at the hands of top-seeded Penn on Saturday. In what would have been a monumental upset, Penn squeaked by taking the match 5-4.
Yale added another 5-4 loss to Trinity’s weekend, in what turned out to be a less competitive match than the score indicated. Three of Trinity’s four victories came in five games — matches that could have gone the Bulldogs way; a telling statistic as to how solid Yale performed after their loss the previous day.
While many teams would be upset without a national championship, the Bulldogs were proud with the results — a third-place finish.
“We’re so happy with the results,” Sarah Barenbaum ’08 said. “Finishing third in the country is fantastic.”
Several of the Bulldogs now set their eyes on the individual national championships next weekend and look to prepare for the tournament with intense preparation this week.
“All the girls are going to train really hard,” Ranieri explained. “Everyone is going to work on their individual weaknesses.
Ranieri heads into the tournament as the favorite as she has been considered the nation’s top player all season long.