For the five seniors on the women’s squash team who won their matches against Brown, their last competition at the Brady Squash Center went the way they wanted it to.
With family and friends cheering them on, captain Frances Ho ’05, Lauren Doline ’05, Sarah Coleman ’05, Lindsay Schroll ’05 and Abigail Epstein ’05 led the No. 1 Elis (9-0, 5-0 Ivy) to a 9-0 schooling of the Bears (6-5, 0-4 Ivy). The Bulldogs only lost five games despite forgoing their top line-up to allow every senior to play.
“They are all about the team,” head coach Dave Talbott said of his seniors. “They’ve been extraordinary team kids. They are real leaders. They’re an important group for leadership and they have made the difference.”
Playing the third seed on her birthday, Ho gave herself a nice present with a 5-9, 9-1, 9-0, 9-1 win over Megan Cerullo. The match was full-contact with both players bumping into each other often and the referees calling many lets and strokes. Because of this, Ho said she let Cerullo get into her head during the hard-fought first game.
“It was all her,” Ho said. “She kept running into the body and not the ball. It was really frustrating. When you are playing a player like that, it is easy for them to get in your head. After I realized that, I focused not on her game but on mine.”
Ho also said her group of friends that shouted encouragement and waved homemade signs helped her come back to take the match.
“[My friends] have been here for the whole four years, coming out to every home game and being great,” Ho said. “They played a huge influence. It really is home court advantage. You feed off their energy and you want to play better when they are behind you.”
Doline, playing a quick and hard-hitting match at the fourth spot, dominated Zarah Rahman except for a 9-7 loss in the third game. But those nine points were the only ones Doline allowed, winning 9-0, 9-0, 7-9, 9-0.
“I felt like I was playing well, but I got a little zoned out the third game,” Doline said. “I was having fun and not thinking about putting the ball away as much. Then you have to go back to basics and play each point as it comes along.”
Michelle Quibell ’06 and Catherine McLeod ’07 were also having fun, playing relaxed at the top two seeds seemingly without breaking a sweat. Quibell dispatched Brown’s No. 1 and captain Lillian Rosenthal 9-7, 9-3, and 9-0. While Quibell became more and more comfortable, Rosenthal became more and more fatigued as the match went on, allowing Quibell to own the third game.
McLeod also won easily, despite showing up to the match in jeans thinking she was not playing. Miranda Ranieri ’08 was supposed to play but was dealing with a slight injury and usual two-seed Amy Gross ’06 was at the Super Bowl, so McLeod suited up. Even though McLeod won 9-3, 9-1, 9-1, she said she was not very happy about the way she played.
“It wasn’t pretty,” McLeod said.
Prettiness aside, every Bulldog did what she needed to in order to get a win. Lauren McCrery ’07 finished 9-4, 9-2, 9-5 in the fifth position. Kate Rapisarda ’07 won 9-6, 9-3, 9-2 at No. 6 while Coleman gave up a single point at No. 7, cruising to a 9-0, 9-0, 9-1 victory.
Schroll had a tough match at No. 8 after she lost the first two games 9-6 and 9-7. But she rallied to win the third 10-9 before settling into a rhythm and winning the last two 9-0 and 9-2. At the nine-seed, Elisabeth Hill ’08 was up two games before she had to battle it out in the third game to win 10-8. In the 10th match which was not officially scored, Epstein dropped her first game but came back to win the last three 9-1, 9-3, and 9-7.
Talbott said the match went pretty well as the team sought focus after their last two wins over No. 2 Trinity and No. 3 Princeton.
“Coming off Trinity and Princeton only three days apart, we did not have the best practice so we tried to regroup and get focused for this match,” he said. “We didn’t want to play sloppy. We have to keep everyone focused.”
The Elis will need to maintain their level of focus with No. 4 Harvard on the horizon. The Cantabs recently upset the Bantams 5-4 and will be hoping to do the same to the defending national and Ivy League champion Bulldogs. A win over the Crimson will give the Elis the conference title and help them to secure the national title again.
“The girls are really trying for two undefeated seasons, so it’s more about us,” Talbott said. “We need to keep playing at our best level. We have enough talent, we just have to worry about ourselves.”
The seniors understand the pressure that comes as the season is winding down. Rather than dwelling on their last match at home, they are already thinking about how to beat the Crimson.
“It is nice to go out on a win,” Doline said. “It gets us ready for Harvard. The season is going fast.”