The No. 1 women’s squash team didn’t let the previously-undefeated Princeton Tigers stand in their way as they came one step closer to their third consecutive championship this weekend. The Bulldogs (8-0, 4-0 Ivy) claimed decisive victories at the top six spots to defeat the No. 4 Tigers, 6-3, in Princeton this past Saturday.
Princeton was the second major obstacle for the Elis this season as they attempt to secure their third national title. Yale eked out a win over the Trinity Bantams, 5-4, Jan. 25 and will take on the Harvard Cantabs in just over two weeks.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better match,” Michelle Quibell ’06 said. “We were expecting it to be a 5-4 win but we proved we are a very good deep team. We went and beat them on their courts. It was a really great weekend.”
The Bulldogs relied on strength at the top of their ladder to overcome the Tigers this past weekend. But the win was not an easy one, as four of the Elis needed four games to dispose of their opponents.
At No. 1 and No. 3, defending individual champion Quibell and Catherine McLeod ’07 gave up just four points to cruise over their Tiger opponents. Miranda Ranieri ’08, still struggling from a groin injury, dropped her first game, 1-9, to Casey Riley but returned to take the next game, 10-8, and finished the match with consecutive 9-1 wins. Captain Amy Gross ’06, Lauren McCrery ’07 and Kate Rapisarda ’07 also picked up wins for the Elis.
Princeton grabbed its three victories at the bottom of the line-up. No. 7 Sarah Barenbaum ’08 said the Tigers’ seven through nine-seeds play level was comparable to Yale’s four-seed.
“Princeton is just incredibly deep,” she said. “The three of us really fought, but those girls were much stronger … Our team in general really came back after our close match against Trinity and proved we can play these games.”
The Bulldogs will take on Amherst and Brown at the Brady Squash Center this week in matches that are expected to be easy victories for the Elis. But No. 2 Harvard lies just around the corner and poses the final test for the Bulldogs in their quest for a perfect season.
In a surprise victory this weekend, No. 3 Trinity upset the Cantabs, 6-3, in Cambridge, in a match reminiscent of the contest between the Bantams and Yale two weeks ago.
“It definitely makes us feel a little less nervous,” Gross said. “But at the same time, we know that we can’t underestimate [Harvard]. That was probably our biggest fault against Trinity.”
The Eli women will play for the national and Ivy championships against the Cantabs in just 17 days. Players said they are confident but hope they will maintain the same level of play that they displayed against Princeton, instead of struggling as they did against Trinity.
“We want to beat them as decisively as we can,” Gross said. “I don’t think we’re going to take Harvard lightly at all.”