The Yale women’s squash team placed fifth at the College Squash Association National Team Championships, also known as the Howe Cup, this week, marking the final team competition of the season.

Hosted at Trinity, the championships kicked off with a match against No. 4 Stanford, a team that previously defeated Yale 7–2 earlier in the season. Prior to the weekend, the Elis were optimistic about their chances in the rematch versus the Cardinal. The stakes of the match were personal, since Stanford’s coach Mark Talbott is the brother of Yale’s head coach Dave Talbott. Despite a valiant effort, the match ended in yet another close loss for the Bulldogs, with a final score of 5–4. Still, Yale managed to rebounded in its subsequent matches with a pair of wins.

“We lost to Stanford 5–4 in our first match which was tough, everyone fought hard and we were points away from winning 5-4,” No. 1 Lucy Beecroft ’20 said.

Beecroft, No. 2 Helen Teegan ’21, No. 3 Celine Yeap ’19 and No. 4 captain Emily Sherwood ’19 all won their games against Stanford. Both Beecroft and Sherwood won their games within three matches, defeating the same Cardinal players they fell to just a few weeks earlier.

After eight games, the score between the two teams was deadlocked at 4–4. The deciding match featured No. 6 Riya Mital ’21 and Drexel’s Stephanie Ryan. Ryan started off strong, winning the first two matches, but Mital then secured the next two wins. While Mital fought hard, she ultimately fell by a final score of 12–10 in the fifth round.

Saturday proved to be more fruitful for the Elis with a 9–0 win against No. 8 Drexel. Four of the top nine players swept their games. No. 5 Aishwarya Bhattacharya ’21 and Sherwood’s matches were more closely contested, with both ending in four matches. Like her match against Stanford, Mital’s game went five matches, but she ultimately slayed her Dragon counterpart.

Senior assistant coach Lynn Leong was satisfied with the team’s results given how similar this season’s roster is to last year’s. This fall, the team implemented a new training regimen that focused on getting the players stronger and fitter. In addition to the new training, Yale also exhibited a greater sense of camaraderie than in prior seasons.

“I think we’ve done pretty well this season considering we really didn’t have any top recruits coming in,” Leong said. “There are no new players in the top nine. It’s the same players. Three seniors graduated last year, and we moved everyone up. Everyone is much more cohesive this season. Everyone is going on there and putting everything on the court.”

Following the CSA Women’s Singles Championship next weekend in Providence, Yeap and Sherwood will graduate from the team, and the Bulldogs will have to look to their younger core, as well as incoming recruits, to maintain their form heading into next season.

In other matches at the team championship, No. 1 Harvard defeated Stanford, and No. 3 Trinity defeated No. 2 Princeton that afternoon as well. The Cardinal also defeated the Tigers in the third-place game, and Princeton ultimately finished one spot higher than the Elis.

On Sunday afternoon, the Bulldogs went on to play No. 7 Columbia. After toppling the Lions 7–2 earlier this month, the two teams met in a consolation match. The clash in Hartford granted similar results, with the Elis grabbing another 7–2 victory. The win placed the Bulldogs at No. 5 nationally, one spot behind their initial goal of No. 4.

“I am slightly disappointed by the final team result, as we wanted to finish in the top four, but Stanford played well and showed it by beating Princeton today to finish third,” Beecroft said. “We were so close and gave it all we had, so we just have to accept fifth in the nation this season, with four very strong teams ahead of us, and look to go further next year.”

Despite not reaching the benchmark they set earlier this season, Nationals proved successful for Yale after the sweeping victories over the Lions and Dragons. The Bulldogs asserted their dominance over inferior opponents, allowing them to end their season on a high note.

“We beat Drexel and Columbia very handedly which I was really proud of my team for –– we wanted it and it showed,” Sherwood said. “Overall I’m so happy with the season, and I’m really excited to see how they do next year!”

The CSA Women’s Singles Championships will be held next weekend in Providence, with select members of the team competing at the event.

Reese Koppel | reese.koppel@yale.edu

Kelly Wei | kelly.wei@yale.edu