After soundly defeating No. 7 Columbia (4–3, 1–1 Ivy) 7–2 in New York this past Sunday, the No. 6 Yale women’s squash team (7–0, 3–0 Ivy) will face a strong test in No. 3 Trinity (7–1, 0–0 NESCAC) Wednesday evening.
The Bulldogs relied on their depth against the Lions to preserve their undefeated season. Though two out of their top four players, No. 1 Jenny Scherl ’17 and captain and No. 4 Shiyuan Mao ’17, lost matches for the first time this year, the rest of the team staved off their opponents in the lopsided victory. The road win capped off an Ivy League weekend in which the Elis played back-to-back matches, also dominating their meeting with No. 8 Cornell (3–1, 1–1 Ivy) 8–1 on Saturday.
“I think the key ingredient to our success thus far has been focus,” Scherl said. “We have mostly played teams that we have been strongly favored to beat, so remaining motivated and sharp has been a hurdle we have successfully overcome thus far.”
The top six spots in Yale’s lineup featured several tightly contested matches against Columbia. Both Scherl and No. 2 Lucy Beecroft ’20 played four games, with Scherl dropping a tight 11–9, 5–11, 11–7, 13–11 match and Beecroft taking a 11–5, 11–6, 10–12, 11–4 victory.
Meanwhile, both No. 5 Jen Davis ’18 and No. 6 Jocelyn Lehman ’18 battled in intense five-game wins over their rivals. Davis took her victory despite conceding two 9–11 games by claiming the other three games 11–6, 11–7 and 11–6. Lehman’s victory also featured several close games as she won 11–6, 7–11, 11–8, 4–11, 11–8.
“Our mindset against Columbia was to play every point, every game with a purpose and put our best foot forward,” Mao said. “Playing at [Columbia’s] home courts gave them a greater advantage, and as the results show, several matches could have gone either way despite the final score.”
The remainder of the Bulldogs’ matches against the Lions was played in the minimum three games. Mao was unable to overcome her matchup against Columbia senior Colette Sultana, losing 9–11, 5–11, 7–11. Despite the captain’s loss, Yale’s lower seeds capitalized on Columbia’s lack of equal depth, with No. 7 Emily Sherwood ’19, No. 8 Selena Maity ’18 and No. 9 Jessica Yacobucci ’20 all sweeping their matches.
The lone Yale sweep in the top half of the ladder came from No. 3 Celine Yeap ’19, who won a convincing 11–9, 11–5, 11–7 contest over Lion freshman Jui Kalgutkar.
The Elis will attempt to build on their momentum and remain undefeated as the face in-state rival Trinity in Hartford. The Bantams will prove to be a formidable opponent, with their only loss this season having come on Monday in a tightly contested 4–5 match against No. 2 Penn.
“Everyone is going to have to be very focused mentally because Trinity has a very fit and talented team that will result in an exciting challenge,” Yacobucci said.
Trinity has had Yale’s number in recent years. The Bantams have swept the Bulldogs in each the past four seasons, most recently handing Yale an 8–1 drubbing in last year’s matchup.
The Elis will look to break this losing streak and advance to 8–0 on the year with an upset performance. To do so, Yale will have to stifle a young Trinity team that boasts returning Raneem Sharaf — ranked No. 11 in the country by the College Squash Association — and three freshmen in their nine-player rotation.
The clash of Nutmeg State rivals begins on Wednesday at 6 p.m.