One day after its biggest season win against Harvard, the women’s squash team fell to Trinity College in the final round of the 2003 Howe Cup at Yale’s Brady Squash Center.
The nationally ranked No. 3 Bulldogs pounced on the nationally ranked No. 2 Crimson Saturday in the semifinal round, winning 8-1. But against the nationally ranked No. 1 Bantams Sunday in the championship, Yale was shut out, 9-0.
The Elis beat Princeton 9-0 for the second time in two weeks in the first round of the tournament Friday afternoon. The loss in the final round prevented Yale from earning its first Howe Cup title since 1992.
“It was a great victory over Harvard,” Yale head coach Mark Talbott said. “It was a little disappointing to get beat 9-0 by Trinity in the final.”
Against the Bantams, Yale’s best chance for a win came in the No. 1 position, where Michelle Quibell ’06 held a 2-0 lead over Amina Helal, the nation’s No. 1 ranked player. But Helal came back, winning 4-9, 4-9, 10-8, 9-6, 9-2.
“[Helal] knows how to beat Michelle [Quibell], and she just had to get her mind focused,” Trinity head coach Wendy Bartlett said. “She got more length and was more patient out there.”
Quibell beat Helal Jan. 21 when the Bulldogs lost to Trinity, 7-2, losing two close five-game matches. The Elis could not approach that win total yesterday.
“I had thought it was going to be a little closer,” Talbott said. “We were a little bit nervous in the final, and everybody was a little bit tight.”
Despite the 9-0 win, Trinity did not approach the match lightly.
“I knew that they were going to be a tougher team,” Trinity’s Bartlett said of Yale. “However, I also know that Trinity is playing tougher than they did a month ago when we played Yale.”
The Bulldogs found themselves in the opposite position Saturday, when they dismantled Harvard, 8-1.
“Everyone came out really focused,” captain Gina Wilkinson ’03 said. “We’ve been training hard, playing a lot of matches, and we really needed to concentrate and go out there and be aggressive immediately. And we did.”
After six matches, the Elis had already clinched the victory, leading 5-1. Rachita Vora’s ’06 defeat of Laura Delano 9-0, 9-6, 9-2 sealed the match.
In the autumn, with three top players out, Yale lost to the Cantabs, 5-4.
“Now, we’re a completely different team,” Wilkinson said. “We’re much stronger; we have much more depth.”
The Bulldogs got two of their eight wins from five-game matches: Devon Dalzell ’04 beat Allison Fast 9-1, 3-9, 9-6, 7-9, 9-3 at position No. 8 and Amy Gross ’06 defeated Lindsey Wilkins 9-7, 9-3, 5-9, 3-9, 10-8.
On Friday afternoon, the Elis dominated Princeton for the second time in two weeks, duplicating their Feb. 1 result: 9-0.
Along with the 29 teams and over 300 athletes competing, hundreds of fans filled the stands throughout the weekend.
“Having a crowd here is fantastic,” Wilkinson said. “Its amazing to have so many people come out and support us.”
With the Howe Cup behind them, the Bulldogs face their most important match of the year Wednesday at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. The winner will be the Ivy League champion; both teams are undefeated in the Ancient Eight so far this year.
“It’s going to be a much more difficult match even than [Saturday],” Talbott said. “Harvard will be out for revenge, and we’re playing for the Ivy title. I expect Harvard to respond, and I hope our team does.”