This past weekend, in their last two games before the national team championships, the No. 4 Elis took on No. 1 Harvard (10–0–0, 4–0–0 Ivy) in Cambridge and hosted No. 9 Dartmouth (5–7–0, 2–5–0) at the Brady Squash Center. The Bulldogs (10–4–0, 5–2–0) fell to the Crimson in a 9–0 game but recovered with a tremendous 7–2 victory over the Big Green a day later.
“Harvard was a tough opponent and we played well at spots and used those matches to learn what we have to work on for the week leading up to nationals,” Aishwarya Bhattacharya ’20 said.
Harvard, the country’s top-ranked team, is a force to be reckoned with in the squash community. Boasting a 58-match winning streak, the team suffered its last defeat back in January 2015. A seasoned team with only three first years, the Crimson has yet to endure even a single individual match loss in the 2018–19 season, winning 9–0 and sweeping all of its matches in the process.
According to the College Squash Association website, only 30 athletes across the nation have a ranking of 5.0 or higher, nine of whom are on Harvard’s team. Despite the Elis’ own top ranking, all of Yale’s top nine matches against Harvard ended within three games.
“Harvard was tough but we always knew it was going to be, they are very strong,” No. 1 Lucy Beecroft ’20 said. “We all played as well as we could and got what we could out of the match. We were strong today against Dartmouth winning 7–2, and it was great to get a good win for our seniors’ last home match.”
In the Harvard match, Beecroft played Harvard’s No. 1, Sabrina Sobhy, who is also the nation’s No. 4 player. The match ultimately ended with a final scores of 11–2, 11–4 and 11–7. No. 5, captain Emily Sherwood ’19 played a match against Harvard’s Amina Yousry which ended with a similar score of 11–4, 11–4 and 11–7.
In comparison, Dartmouth has a much younger team which includes five first years and several sophomores. The Big Green has had mixed results this season, winning five of its 12 games thus far.
“Dartmouth was a good confidence boost, although we had some close losses at the bottom of the ladder,” Bhattacharya said. “Overall, we are really happy with how we played and everyone is pumped and ready to work hard to improve up a notch as we get ready for nationals.”
Despite the tough loss to Harvard, the Elis are currently preparing for the College Squash Association’s Women’s Team Championships, also known as the Howe Cup. The Howe Cup, an annual team championship tournament, is the largest squash event for women in the United States.
The annual championship is held at multiple locations; Yale will be going to Trinity, which has a state-of-the-art squash facility. The team looks ahead to team nationals on Feb. 22–24, which is regarded as the most important match of the season.
“We now have two weeks before nationals to get in some good training,” Beecroft said. “All our focus is now on beating Stanford in the first round and making sure we finish in the top four again.”
The last time the Elis faced off against the Cardinal was a nail-biter: Due to an injury to No. 6 Riya Mital ’21, as well as three full five-game matches that ended in Stanford’s favor, the Cardinal prevailed 7–2.
The Elis have a weekend off of competition before heading to Trinity for the Howe Cup. No. 5 Yale will face No. 4 Stanford on Feb. 22.
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