Ranked second in the nation all season, on Sunday the women’s squash team finally proved that they deserved to be on top.
In a repeat of last week’s contest for the Ancient Eight crown, the Elis defeated formerly top-ranked Harvard (11–2, 5–1) with the same score as last weekend, 5–4, to win their first national title in five years.
“A national championship, Ivy title, and undefeated season speaks for itself,” head coach Dave Talbott said. “It was the culmination of a great season,”
En route to the Howe Cup title, Yale (17–0, 6–0 Ivy) also defeated No. 8 Dartmouth (9–8, 1–5) and No. 5 Princeton (10–5, 3–3) in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.
“It feels incredible,” captain and 2011 Betty Richey Award recipient Logan Greer ’11 said. “As a freshman, I made it my goal to win a national championship. As a senior class, we have worked for four years with this end in mind. It is the best feeling in the world, finishing this season undefeated as a team, winning the Ivy League and national titles.”
To begin their quest for the title, the Bulldogs took on the Big Green, who have struggled against Ivy League opponents.
While Greer’s victory took five games, the rest of the team easily won in straight 3–0 matches.
“Dartmouth was a great match to start with and get used to the courts,” Sarah Toomey ’11 said.
Yale next took on the Tigers on Saturday. Princeton had the home court advantage in the tournament, and were able to pull off the upset against No. 4 Penn the previous night. The next day, Princeton gave the Bulldogs a much closer contest than earlier in the season when Yale won 7–2 at home.
But the Elis still captured victory relatively easily with a 6–3 victory, led by Greer who won in straight games at the No. 1 position. Freshman Gwendoline Tilghman ’14 lost her second match of the year against Princeton in five closely contested games.
“Princeton was playing much better squash this weekend than when we played them earlier in the season,” Toomey said. “Combined with their home court advantage, we had to play well to win, and it prepared us for the intensity of the final.”
After last week’s match against Harvard, both teams knew they were in for a battle with the national title at stake.
Lillian Fast ’14 and Toomey got Yale off to a quick 2–1 lead in the first set of matches against the Crimson. At the No. 6 position, Katie Ballaine ’13 lost in four close games, 1–3.
In the next three matches, Yale won two out of the three contests with big wins from Mille Tomlinson ’14 and Rhetta Nadas ’12.
Tomlinson won her match in straight games and finished her season undefeated. She was pushed to four games only once against No. 3 Trinity last month. Nadas, who according to Toomey had the best match of her career, pulled out a huge 3–2 victory for the Bulldogs.
“Heading into the third game, I realized that my match was crucial for the win,” Nadas said. “At that moment, I just thought about the team and all we have given this season, and I was able to find the motivation to win in five games.”
However, despite a 4–2 advantage going into the last three matches, Yale quickly found itself on the verge of defeat as Harvard tied the score at 4–4 with wins at the No. 1 and No. 7 positions.
Greer pushed the No. 1 player in the nation Laura Gemmell to five games after being defeated in straight games last weekend. However, she was unable to pull of the win against Gemmell, who picked up her play on the final points in the match. Caroline Reigeluth ’11, who was the hero last weekend against Harvard, lost to Sarah Mumanachit at the No. 7 spot.
The last match, between Kimberley Hay ’14 and the Crimson’s June Tiong, would decide the outcome.
“Watching the rest of the team go on before me was definitely nerve-wrecking,” Hay admitted.
Hay beat Tiong last weekend in straight games, but Tiong made it tougher for Hay on Sunday, forcing four games. Still, Hay came out victorious and sent Yale to its fourth national title in ten years.
“It was an awesome feeling to be the one to clinch it and know that we had won,” Hay said. “But at the same time I knew how much effort that all of my team had put in and how much they wanted it so it was great to be able to win for them and share the experience with them.”
Yale next heads to the College Squash Association individual championships in Hanover, N.H. on March 4.