It was a disappointing end to the season for the Yale women’s squash team on Saturday, as the Bulldogs dropped their final regular season match to an undefeated Harvard team.
The No. 5 ranked Bulldogs (9–4, 3–3 Ivy) lost to the No. 1 Crimson (9–0, 6–0 Ivy) by a score of 7–2 at the Brady Squash Center, capping off their third loss in the last four matches. With the victory, Harvard clinched its 17th Ivy League title and completed a perfect season with a 9–0 record. The Crimson last won the Ancient Eight title in 2006. Harvard also earned its 11th Barhite Award, which is presented annually to the team with the best regular season dual match record in the nation.
After the match, Yale head coach David Talbott recognized the history of the Yale-Harvard rivalry, as well as the talent level of the Crimson.
“We view this as the most important dual match of the season,” Talbott said. “In the history of women’s squash, [the Crimson] have been the most dominant team. This season, I was really impressed by their girls and how deep of a squad they have.”
The Bulldogs earned their only victories at the No. 2 and No. 3 positions, as team captain Alia Aziz ’10 and Sarah Toomey ’11 each defeated their opponents by a score of 3–1.
Another notable performance came from Katie Ballaine, who managed to win a hard-fought game at the No. 6 spot before losing to Cece Cortes 3–1. Trailing 9–10 in the first game, Cortes hit a solid drop shot in an effort to tie the game, but Ballaine dove to the ground as she hit the ball. Her shot “nicked” the ball, meaning that it hit the juncture of the floor and wall, causing the ball to die. Although Ballaine jumped out to a promising start by winning the first game 11–9, she dropped the next three to Cortes, who did not lose a match the entire season.
“She started playing much better than I did in terms of placement, and I wasn’t making many of my shots,” Ballaine said. “Since I wasn’t playing well enough, all I could do was run until the end, and that just wasn’t enough today.”
After the last regular season match of her career, as well as that of fellow seniors Katharine Ettinger ’10 and Kaitlin Vinci ’10, Aziz reflected on the Elis’ season.
“Our results might not reflect how hard we’ve worked or indicate the progress we’ve made in terms of mental toughness, fitness and commitment to the sport,” Aziz said. “However, we are all willing to continue working hard, and hopefully we will improve that much more before nationals.”
The Elis will now shift their focus to the Howe Cup, the National Championship tournament for women’s college teams. Coach Talbott believes that his team has the right pieces in place to make some noise come postseason play.
“Motivation won’t be a problem with these girls,” Talbott said. “Luckily for them, they have a chance to resurrect their season. We have two weeks to train and it is absolutely essential that we use that to our advantage. If we get back to the basics and put in some hard work with our fitness, we will give ourselves a chance to win.”
Yale will play host to the Howe Cup between Feb. 26 and 28 at the Brady Squash Center. The first scheduled match for the Elis is against Princeton on Feb. 26 at a time that has yet to be determined.