The Yale women’s squash team finished fourth in the nation after battling higher ranked rivals at the College Squash Association National Championships this past weekend, improving upon their fifth-place seeding at the start of the tournament.
Yale began the tournament with a bang against Stanford, which had been one of the team’s fiercest adversaries during the regular season. After a devastating 6–3 loss in January, the Bulldogs returned to defeat Stanford 5–4 this weekend. After a 9–0 loss to No. 1 Harvard, the Bulldogs faced off against No. 2 Princeton, to whom they lost 8–1 despite many close individual matches.
“Everyone is extremely happy with our performance at the national championships,” captain Jen Davis ’18 said. “I’m so proud of the heart and determination that the girls played with.”
Yale beat out Stanford in perhaps its closest match of the regular season, with its tight 5–4 win further underlined by four of the matches lasting full five games. Yale’s top players — including No. 1 Lucy Beecroft ’20, No. 2 Helen Teegan ’21, and No. 3 Celine Yeap ’19 — defeated their opponents, though Stanford’s depth ensured that matches farther down the roster would be tougher for Yale. No. 5 Jocelyn Lehman ’18 won in five games, and No. 7 Riya Mital ’21 won after four, securing the overall victory for the Elis. Even the matches that Yale lost were by thin margins, including No. 8 Davis’s five-game loss and No. 9 Alexis Lazor’s ’21 four-game loss.
“We had been preparing to play Stanford for the past two weeks, and it really paid off,” Teegan said. “Everyone stepped up their games, and the matches outside the five wins were just as important for our team’s success.”
The team’s victory against Stanford sealed Yale’s spot in the semifinals. Their next opponent was No. 1 Harvard, which was heavily favored to win after defeating Yale 9–0 in the regular season. The formidable Crimson was particularly dominant on Saturday, sweeping Yale without letting a single match last more than three games.
“We knew Harvard was going to be our toughest opponent going into it, but everyone gave it their all and tried to play their best squash,” Mital said.
On Sunday, an 8–1 loss to Princeton sealed Yale’s fate, locking the Bulldogs out of the top three. Though Yale hoped that Princeton would be rattled following its Saturday loss to No. 3 Trinity, the Tigers ultimately triumphed by the same margin over Yale as in their regular season matchup.
The sole win for the Bulldogs came from Teegan, who defeated Princeton’s Raneem El Torky after a lengthy, five-game battle.
“We knew Sunday’s matches against Princeton were going to be tough, so we just tried to play the best versions of our games,” Teegan said.
Yale’s depth was evident throughout the match despite the lopsided score, with five other matches lasting four games, including those of Beecroft, No. 4 Aishwarya Bhattacharya ’21, Lehman, Mital and Davis. Mital’s match was particularly close, with all of her games decided by a margin of four points or less.
Despite the loss, members of the team were still proud of their weekend performance and the improvement in their national standings.
“In my four years, we have never made it to the final four, and I have never been prouder of the team, Davis said. “Everyone played their hearts out and fought for every point.”
Although team play is over for the season, several of the team’s members will likely compete at the CSA’s Individual National Championships, which begin on March 2 in Washington, D.C.
Alex Reedy | firstname.lastname@example.org