After a historic season, Yale women’s squash enters the College Squash Association Women’s National Team Championship race as the third seed, and is poised for its deepest run in several years after a first-round exit to No. 6 Stanford (5–5, 0–0 Pacific Twelve) in 2019.
This weekend, Yale’s Brady Squash Center will host the top eight teams in women’s college squash as they compete in the Howe Cup division, the winner of which is crowned the National Team Champion. The No. 3 Bulldogs (12–3, 5 Ivy) had a stellar regular season campaign in the lead-up to the tournament, winning 12 of their 15 games. This record was the Elis best since 2014 and included a win over No. 4 Trinity (14–3, 0–0 NESCAC), Yale’s first since 2012.
“We are so excited to play on our home courts, and I am so proud of how hard the team has worked this season,” captain Lucy Beecroft ’20 said. “We had a great upset against Trinity and good wins against Stanford and Penn. We are hoping to cause some more upsets this weekend at nationals.”
One of the most consequential matchups for the Elis’ season was this weekend, and the team wasn’t even competing. During the regular season, Yale fell to No. 2 Princeton (12–1, 6–1 Ivy) but pulled off an upset against the Bantams, a perennial championship contender. Saturday’s meeting of those two teams in New Jersey had substantial implications for postseason seeding. The Tigers dispatched Trinity 5–4 and, in doing so, secured the third seed for the Bulldogs. This ranking sets Yale up for a potentially deep playoff run.
The current top eight, in order, are No. 1 Harvard (14–0, 7–0 Ivy), Princeton, Yale, Trinity, No. 5 Penn (8–5, 4–3 Ivy), Stanford, No. 7 Drexel (11–6, 2–0 Colonial) and No. 8 Columbia (9–6, 4–3 Ivy). During the regular season, the Bulldogs posted a 5–3 record against this field, dropping games against the Crimson, the Tigers and a soul-crushing 5–4 loss against the Lions with first-seed Beecroft injured.
First on the team’s postseason docket is a match against No. 6 Stanford. Yale enters this match with a chip on its shoulder after the Cardinals’ 5–4 upset win over the Bulldogs in the first round of last year’s CSA championships. This game features both a collegiate and familial rivalry. Stanford’s director of squash Mark Talbott is the brother of Yale director of squash David Talbott and was a former member of Yale’s coaching staff before leaving to promote squash’s development in California. The Elis play against Stanford at the kickoff tournament this Friday at 2:00 p.m.
“We’re excited to take on Stanford again on home courts, especially given the brotherly rivalry between the two coaches,” Aishwarya Bhattacharya ’21 said. “It’s going to be a tough match, but we’ve all been training for this moment and we’re ready to play some good squash.”
Last month, the Elis posted a 6-3 win against the Cardinals in a convincing performance. In that match, as with many others this season, Beecroft’s stellar play has been essential to the team’s success. Beecroft, No. 7 Riya Mital ’21 and No. 9 Nikita Joshi ’21 shut out their opponents with three-set sweeps. In this contest and others this season, the team’s depth has proven indispensable, especially at the seven and eight seeds. The Stanford tilt also featured stellar play from the team’s first years, a consistent feature throughout the Bulldogs’ wins this season.
Yale hosts the CSA Women’s National Team Championships from Feb. 21 through Feb. 23.
Matthew Cline | firstname.lastname@example.org