Courtesy of Sam Rubin

The Yale women’s squash team seeks to build off its third-place finish at the Ivy Scrimmages two weeks ago as it officially opens the 2018–19 season this Saturday against No. 9 Drexel.

The No. 4 Bulldogs took on their Ivy League rivals for the first time since March during the first week of November, where they showed the field that they will continue to be a formidable force. Yale started the weekend off strong, defeating Cornell 8–1. After falling to Princeton 7–2, the team recovered to beat Penn 7–2 to claim third. Now, the Bulldogs begin the regular season with a specific goal — to become one of the top three teams in the country.

“We’re really excited to start the season with a home match against Drexel,” Lucy Beecroft ’20 said. “We have a great team this year and are more cohesive than we have ever been; I think people should expect some big upsets from us this season.”

The Bulldogs are heavily favored to win their season opener against Drexel despite their opponent’s impressive top-10 ranking. In the past, the Dragons have posed little challenge for Yale: Last season, the Bulldogs made quick work of Drexel with a score of 8–1.

That being said, Drexel is still a top-ranked team and will serve as a valuable test of Yale’s skill set heading into the fall season.

“Drexel will be a good opener for us to test what we’ve practiced in matches,” said Aishwarya Battacharya ’21. “The line up is good and we are going to try to control the rallies and play the basics well, while applying our usual tactics.”

Returning to coach the team for his 35th season is the Brooks G. Ragen Director of Squash, Dave Talbott, who credited the team’s successful scrimmages in early November to its rigorous training program.

“Senior Assistant Lynn Leong and Assistant Tim Lasusa have worked diligently and effectively this fall to implement a new training program, with our strength coach Mike Harris, being a key figure in our fall program,” Talbott said after the scrimmages. “The level of play in the matches this weekend showed that we are stronger and moving better on the court to attack the ball.”

Looking forward, the Bulldogs conclude their fall season with one more match against Brown, a team which Yale has successfully competed against for the past three years.

In 2018, Yale routed Brown 9–0, and the Elis are looking to continue their dominance over the Bears next week.

This season, the Bulldogs welcome first years Molly Tomlinson ’22, Ainsley Weber ’22, Avery Westerfield ’22, and Jennie Miller ’22 to their roster. Emily Sherwood ’19 and Celine Yeap ’19 will compete for the Bulldogs for their final year, with Sherwood taking the reins as captain.

“We’re really motivated to play for one more year,” Sherwood said. “We hope to maintain our top-four ranking and hope to even surprise some of the top three teams this year.”

Following their winter break, the Elis will have a packed schedule in January that includes matchups against some of the highest-ranked teams in the country, including Ancient Eight rivals Penn and Princeton. Teammates interviewed expressed confidence that they will succeed in the matches, which will in turn give them confidence as they return to the season-ending Ivy League National Championships in March.

“If we keep working, we can contend for a top-three finish in the country,” Talbott said.

Yale will return to the court at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Alex Reedy | alex.reedy@yale.edu