Two weeks after losing to No. 1 Harvard, the Yale women’s squash team will look to rebound this weekend as it hosts the Howe Cup national team championships at the Brady Squash Center.
The No. 5 Bulldogs (9–4, 3–3 Ivy), who lost three of their final four regular-season matches, are hoping to earn their first national championship since the 2005-’06 season, which finished a three-year run.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”7757″ ]
Head coach David Talbott believes the two weeks off from official match competition has allowed the players to effectively prepare for the three-day tournament.
“The girls are feeling fresh and ready to play this weekend,” Talbott said. “They have been able to do some fitness while also having the chance to reload, which I think they needed to do given the length of the season. The combination of having hard practices and getting this past weekend off certainly helps a lot.”
The Elis’ first opponent of the tournament will be Ivy League foe and three-time reigning national champion Princeton. The No. 4 Tigers (7–4, 4–2) defeated the Elis by a score of 5–4 during the regular season — a loss that spoiled the Bulldogs’ chances of winning an Ivy League championship. Seven of Princeton’s nine current starters played in the Howe Cup last year when the Tigers defeated Harvard to win the national title.
Despite these facts, captain Alia Aziz ’10 and her teammates are looking forward to the challenge that the Tigers present.
“We are really excited to play [Princeton],” Aziz said. “We had a lot of tough 5–4 losses this season, so this entire tournament is a chance for us to redeem ourselves. Looking at the first match and considering Princeton’s lineup, there are definitely five matchups in there that we can win. We just need to be confident and aggressive.”
The match will feature four of the nation’s top-10 players, including Yale’s Logan Greer ’11 and Sarah twice this season, winning both times by a margin of three goals. Recently, though, Princeton has put together two big upsets over top ECAC teams.
Three weeks ago, the Tigers dethroned then-first place Cornell with a 5–3 victory. Then, last Saturday, Princeton crushed fourth-place RPI, 7–0, on the road.
The Bulldogs will end their regular season at cross-town rival Quinnipiac on Saturday. Although the Elis will be only about 10 miles away from Ingalls Rink, Quinnipiac’s TD Banknorth Sports Center may prove to be one of the most hostile environments Yale has faced all year.
“It’s the biggest game for [Quinnipiac], so their fans make it a really fun environment for us to play in,” O’Neill said.
After starting out 7–0–0 in the ECAC and being ranked No. 4 in the country, the Bobcats have collapsed ever since their 7–4 loss to the Bulldogs at Ingalls Rink on Dec. 4. Since that game, Quinninipiac has gone 2–10–0 in the conference and is currently on a three-game losing streak.
Both games can be heard on wybc.com. Saturday’s game against Quinnipiac will be broadcast on NESN, starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday’s contest against Princeton begins at 7 p.m.