Last weekend, the Yale women’s squash team competed in its final team competition of the season: the Howe Cup, the women’s collegiate squash national tournament.
The No. 5 ranked Bulldogs (11–5, 4–3 Ivy) fell to No. 4 Princeton (12–3, 5–2 Ivy) by a 6–3 score. After the opening loss, however, Yale rebounded to claim two victories en route to a fifth-place finish.
“The final match score in [the Princeton] game didn’t reflect how tight the individual games were,” Isabella Norman-Ross ’15 said. “It was frustrating to end on that note as we were so close, but everyone played well and gave their all.”
In the Princeton match, Jocelyn Lehman ’18, playing in the No. 8 position, lost in the fifth game 11–9. Shihui Mao ’15, playing as No. 2, was unable to capitalize on her 2–1 lead and conceded a five-game loss as well. Had these matches gone in the Yale’s favor, the women would have beaten the Tigers.
Princeton won largely on the strength of the top of its ladder, taking the top-four matches, while the Bulldogs won at five, seven and nine. Shiyuan Mao ’17, Annie Ballaine ’16 and Georgia Blatchford ’16 contributed wins for Yale.
Princeton’s 5–4 loss in the next round to eventual champion Harvard demonstrated just how close the competition was this season.
The women were next slated to play No. 8 George Washington (9–7), but a blizzard, which produced 16 inches of snow in the Boston area, forced the Colonials to forfeit in order to ensure safe travel back to Washington, D.C. Yale beat the Colonials 8–1 earlier this season.
The forfeit advanced Yale to the consolation final against No. 6 Cornell (10–7, 3–4), which lost 6–3 to Yale in January.
The teams’ second meeting of the season ended just as the first did: a 6–3 Yale triumph. The victory showcased Yale’s depth, with Yale winning the fifth through ninth positions as well as No. 2. Three of Yale’s wins came in five-game matches.
Shihui Mao, playing as No. 2 again, was able to reverse her results from the Princeton match by overcoming a 2–1 deficit and winning the fifth game 11–9.
For captain Anna Harrison ’15, as well as fellow seniors Mao, Norman-Ross and Nina Kemper ’15, the win against Cornell was the final team match of their collegiate squash careers.
“I came to Yale wanting to represent Yale in squash and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have done so for the past four years,” Mao said. “Squash has been a huge part of my Yale experience, as it is where I cultivated life-long friendships and learnt the importance of teamwork, determination and sportsmanship.”
Though the team’s results were similar to preseason expectations — the team was ranked fourth in the country before the season began — head coach David Talbott said that the team’s finish did not tell the whole story.
He added that the Bulldogs were very close to a stronger finish, and the team was disappointed in the final result of the Howe Cup.
“After losing four seniors last year, we knew it was going to be a bit of an uphill battle facing teams like Trinity and Harvard [this season],” Harrison said. “However, everyone stepped up and even though we didn’t win the team match, we had a lot of great individual victories.”
While this was the final team competition for Yale, several Bulldogs will travel to the College Squash Association Individual Tournament at Princeton the weekend of Feb. 27.
This coming weekend, however, the Yale men (10–4, 5–2 Ivy) will take part in the C.S.A. Team Tournament hosted by Trinity. The No. 5 Bulldogs will take on No. 4 Columbia (12–2, 6–1). The men hope to avenge a narrow 5–4 upset surrendered to Columbia earlier this season.
The match will commence this Friday at 5:30 p.m.