The No. 5 women’s squash team (12–6, 4–3 Ivy) was unable to pull off an upset at the national championships this weekend, going 1–2 at the Howe Cup en route to a sixth-place finish to close out the season.
Yale entered the weekend seeking an underdog victory over No. 4 Princeton (12–5, 5–2) in the tournament’s opening round, but were eliminated from championship contention with a 3–6 loss. The Bulldogs were able to secure a rebound victory in the consolation bracket over No. 8 Columbia (6–10, 2–5) the next day, but ended their season on a 4–5 loss to No. 6 Stanford (8–7), a team they had beaten 5–4 during the regular season. Despite the Howe Cup disappointment, the Yale players remained proud of their accomplishments during the season.
“I thought we came out really strong as a team for every match. We had many close games against Princeton and Stanford that unfortunately did not go our way,” Celine Yeap ’19 said. “Throughout the season, we have been through all the hard training, the ups and downs, tough traveling schedule and have improved so much since last fall. The Howe Cup result does not reflect the hard work, grit and determination that we have put in for the past few months.”
The Elis had come into Howe Cup play with a true shot at defeating the Tigers, having conceded their regular-season match three weeks earlier by only one game. Though Yale swept the top four spots on the ladder in their last matchup, they were unable to repeat that performance with No. 1 Jenny Scherl ’17 and captain and No. 4 Shiyuan Mao ’17 losing their respective matches. Despite losing in four matches, Scherl scored 33 points, just one fewer than her opponent, Olivia Fiechter.
Mao’s match ran the length of five games, one of three matches that did so, which were all losses for the Bulldogs. No. 6 Jocelyn Lehman ’18 and No. 7 Emily Sherwood ’19 also pushed their matches to the limit. No. 5 Jen Davis ’18 was the lone Eli to win her match after losing in the previous meeting with Princeton, three straight games after dropping the first. For Yale, however, it was not enough, and the 3–6 loss knocked them out of the national championship.
Columbia proved a relatively easy matchup for the Bulldogs who were missing Scherl, their top player. With Lucy Beecroft ’20 sliding up to fill the No. 1 spot and Madeline Tomlinson ’17 making her final appearance on the ladder, Yale barreled over the Lions, 8–1.
Davis provided Yale’s only defeat, falling in four games. No. 7 Selena Maity ’18, No. 2 Yeap and Tomlinson all swept their matches, while No. 8 Jessica Yacobucci ’20 overpowered her opponent with an 11–9 fifth game.
On Sunday, the Elis played in their final match of the year against the Cardinal to determine a fifth- or sixth-place finish. In the last matches of their Yale careers, Scherl and Mao both walked away victorious, taking their respective matches. Beecroft and Yacobucci also added wins for the Bulldogs, but Stanford reversed the score of the teams’ earlier match this year and came away with a tight 4–5 victory, resulting in a sixth-place finish for Yale.
“I think the girls played the hardest I’ve ever seen at this year’s Howe Cup and I’m really proud of us to achieve sixth place,” Mao said. “It was not easy beating Columbia with Jenny out of the lineup but we performed and Sunday’s match with Stanford was just really tough. Our girls played their hearts out but I guess the Stanford girls outplayed us. It was a great match. This season was full of ups and downs, with our No. 4 Helen Teegan taking the semester off and a couple of injuries here and there, but I think we managed to pull off a good result.”
Other than Stanford and Yale, the other Howe Cup teams all finished in the spots they were seeded, with No. 1 Harvard claiming the national title over No. 2 Penn, 7–2, in a repeat of last year’s final. The victory marked the Crimson’s second consecutive championship.
Following the championships, Yale will end up ranked No. 6, the spot in which they began the season. However, Yale had a promising regular season, being one of only two teams in the nation’s top eight to have pulled off an upset.
Several of the team’s members will likely compete next at the College Squash Association’s individual national championships, which start March 3 at Dartmouth.