Yale Athletics

After battling two higher-ranked Ivy rivals this weekend, the No. 6 Yale women’s squash team emerged with a victory against No. 5 Penn but fell in a tight match against No. 4 Princeton, breaking its undefeated streak in the 2017–18 season.

The Bulldogs began their weekend play against Penn on Saturday and secured a dramatic 5–4 win in a highly anticipated match, marking Yale’s first success against the Quakers since 2011. Despite giving up games in the top three positions, excellent play further down the roster demonstrated the team’s depth. However, the Elis failed to continue their success at Princeton the next day, suffering an 8–1 loss even though all but one of the individual matches reached a fourth game.

“Every single one of us fought our hardest to beat Penn 5–4, which was a huge win for our team and something we can build on,” said Riya Mital ’21. “While our match against Princeton didn’t go our way, every individual match was close and they are well within our reach for when we play them next.”

The loss to Princeton was Yale’s first during its seven-game road trip, with the Elis having yet to compete in a match on home turf.

The team took immense pride in defeating Penn, particularly after their 5–4 loss to the Quakers at the Ivy League Scrimmages in the November preseason. Although No. 1 Lucy Beecroft ’20, No. 2 Celine Yeap ’19, and No. 3 Helen Teegan ’20 experienced their first losses of the regular season, all three competing first years — Aishwarya Bhattacharya ’21, Mital and Alexis Lazor ’21 — defeated their Quaker opponents.

“We trained super hard leading up to the match and pulled out the 5–4 win against them,” Lazor said. “Everyone was on top of their game and put in the effort and dedication to win.”

Captain Jen Davis ’18 and Jocelyn Lehman ’18 picked up the remaining two victories to seal the win, with Davis recovering from a loss in her first game with a close 11–7 win in the fourth game.

Yale’s success in Philadelphia came after its first matches of 2018 in Massachusetts, against No. 16 Amherst and No. 14 Williams — both of which the Elis were favored to win. The team scored consecutive 9–0 wins against each school before facing off against its more competitive rivals this weekend.

“This weekend was a good time to gauge our level against the top teams in the nation,” Davis said. “On Saturday, the seniors and freshmen stepped up to help us clinch victory.”

Although Yale could not manage another upset victory against Princeton, six of the nine matches stretched to four games, while two lasted five games, demonstrating the Bulldogs’ competitiveness despite the loss. Lehman achieved the sole Eli victory, beating out the Tigers’ Morgan Steelman over the course of four games.

“We knew Princeton was going to be a very tough opponent going into the match,” Lazor said. “We had a couple five-game matches that could have gone in our favor on a different day, but everyone stuck with it and played their hearts out.”

Yeap and Mital each won their first games against Tigers Raneem El Torky and Kira Keating, but both Bulldogs fell in their fifth games. Beecroft, Bhattacharya and Selena Maity ’18 were tied 1–1 after their second games — but were then swept by their Princeton opponents in the third and fourth games.

“Sunday was disappointing to lose 8–1, but the score isn’t representative of the closeness of the match,” Davis said. “I’m excited to see us get to the next level over the last stretch of our season.”

The Elis will be able to lean on this weekend’s experience when they face off against No. 1 Harvard, No. 2 Trinity and No. 4 Stanford in the coming weeks. The Bulldogs have not lost to a lower-ranked team this year and remain optimistic as they prepare for their first matches at Brady Squash Center next week. Davis and other teammates expressed their continued hope that Yale will become one of the top four teams in the nation after the College Squash Association Team Championships this February.

Yale will play Connecticut rival No. 2 Trinity at 6 p.m. on Jan. 24.

Alex Reedy | alex.reedy@yale.edu