Win over Penn could ensure top eight finish for women’s squash

Continuing to build on the momentum accrued during last week’s Williams Invitational, women’s squash had another excellent week, beating teams from Penn, Hamilton and the prep school Deerfield Academy; the team also put up an excellent fight with fourth ranked Yale before losing 6-3.

The win over Penn, combined with last week’s win over Cornell, gives the Ephs a good chance to finish in the top eight before the national team tournament at Yale at the end of February.

“It was a great weekend for us,” said head coach Julie Greenwood. “The girls have a lot of momentum right now and are playing their best squash of the season. They are confident, aggressive and really looking forward to our upcoming matches. They feel like they can play with any of the top teams and they have really come together. It’s been a fun few weeks since Dartmouth.”

The week started out with a match against prep school powerhouse Deerfield Academy. With a lineup consisting of top player Adrienne Ellman ’03 and six first-years, the team beat Deerfield 4-3. Ellman, playing out of the top position, Joanna Leathers ’05 and Megan Henze ’05 cruised to easy three game victories, while fellow first-year Katie Shattuck ’05 ran away with the final game 9-3 to gain a hard-fought 3-2 victory.

“It was a good match for us to play,” said Greenwood. “It’s difficult for a college to play a high school team, but I was not happy with our performance last year. We don’t get to play a lot of matches, and last year I felt that we did not play well. This year I felt we played a lot better.”

The team then traveled to Yale on Friday to take on Yale and Hamilton. Facing the fourth-ranked Bulldogs, the Ephs lost 6-3. However, Claire Whipple ’05, Andrea Berberian ’05 and Leathers were able to topple their opponents. Both Whipple and Berberian fought back from 0-2 deficits to earn their wins, while Leathers won in three games.

Later that night, the Ephs faced a team from Hamilton. Despite having played a match earlier in the day, the team displayed superior talent and coasted to a 9-0 victory.

The following day, the Ephs traveled to Amherst to take on the Penn Quakers. Despite losing the top two matches, the team clinched a 6-3 victory over the Quakers, winning six out of the last seven matches. Winning on the day for the Ephs were Whipple at three, Kate Neal ’04 at four, co-captain Katherine French ’02, Berberian, Lexi Lee ’03 and Leathers.Â

“Knowing that our first two players were facing difficult matches, there was a lot of pressure on the rest of our lineup,” said Greenwood. “Penn was the intercollegiate champion two years ago and they have been ahead of us for a long time, so it was a big win for us.”

With the Penn win and last week’s triumph over Cornell in the Williams Invitational, the Ephs have two victories over top-ranked opponents in as many weeks. The triumphs also leave the team very confident as they face the rest of their schedule and eventually the Nationals at Yale.

“We can match up well against any team,” said Greenwood. “We were disappointed with the Dartmouth match because we knew we did not play our best, but we have come back since. This win helps our confidence a lot and gives us a good chance of playing in the top eight and for the Howe Cup at Nationals.”

Next up for the Ephs is top-ranked Harvard, who visits on Thursday at 5 p.m.