Women’s squash powers to 2nd at ‘B’ division championship

Women’s squash (15-13, 6-2 in the NESCAC) closed out its season last weekend, going 2-1 at the Kurtz Cup ‘B’ Division National Championship to finish second in the tournament and 10th in the nation. After silencing No. 13 Columbia 8-1 in the first round, the women dominated perennial rival No. 11 Middlebury 6-3 in the semifinals. Advancing to the final round, the women took on No. 9 Brown, narrowly falling 5-4 despite a strong all-around performance.

On Friday, the women took on a much-improved Columbia squad in the first round of the tournament. Having beaten the Lions 7-2 on Jan. 29, the women were the clear favorites, but Friday’s 8-1 victory exceeded expectations. At Nos. 3 and 9, respectively, Laura Henry ’13 and Eliana Saltzman ’12 both took decisive three-game wins. Caroline Sawin ’15 fought hard at No. 6, taking the first game 11-9 but dropping the second 8-11. Sawin took a marathon third game 18-16 to go up 2-1 and, despite dropping a close fourth game 10-12, was able to close out the match with an 11-7 win in the fifth. No. 2 Alli Rubin ’13 and No. 5 Ellie O’Neill ’15 took their respective matches in four despite being pushed deep into several of their games. At No. 8, co-captain Carolyn Kaemmer ’12 came back to win her fifth game after seeing an early two-game lead evaporate. Despite entering the third round with an insurmountable 6-0 lead, the women did not let up. Co-captain Courtney Bogle ’12 was strong in the top spot, dropping only one game on the way to victory. Alyssa Northrop ’14 was pushed hard at No. 4 but was able to come back from a 2-1 deficit to take the match in five. No. 7 Hannah Kaemmer ’13 saw the Ephs’ only loss on the day: She fell 3-2 to her Lion opponent.

Advancing to the semifinal, the women faced a strong rival in Middlebury. Despite a 1-1 record against the Panthers this season, the Ephs did not come out strong, recording early losses from No. 3 Henry and No. 9 Saltzman. Sawin was able to secure a win at No. 6, taking a tough five-game match. In the second round of matches, the women drew the match even at three, with decisive three-game wins from O’Neill at No. 5 and Carolyn Kaemmer at No. 8. While Rubin fought deep into her second game and managed to take the third at No, 2, she was unable to come back from a two-game deficit, falling in four to her Panther opponent. With the decision riding on the last three matches of the day, Bogle, Northrop and Hannah Kaemmer took to the courts with a new energy. At No. 1, a determined Bogle fought hard to beat an opponent to whom she had only recently fallen at the NESCAC championship. Despite a loss in the second, Bogle played impressive squash, taking the win in four games. Northrop, at No. 4, was pushed deep into each of her four games but was able to close out the win despite a narrow 10-12 loss in the third. Hannah Kaemmer secured a 6-3 victory for the Ephs, fighting back from a two-game deficit to win the match in five. At the end of the day, Williams defeated Middlebury by a 6-3 margin.

“The women played fantastic [squash last] weekend beating Columbia and Middlebury, both better scores than during the season,” Head Coach Zafi Levy ’01 said.

In the finals of the Kurtz Cup, the women faced off against a strong Brown squad that had won the tournament last year and in 2009. In the first round, Henry and Sawin came out swinging at Nos. 3 and 6, respectively. Henry played a marathon five-game match, narrowly holding off a late comeback from her Bear opponent, while Sawin played a tight four-game match, dropping a close third game on her way to victory. At No. 9, Saltzman was unable to overcome a challenging opponent despite a promising first-game win and a resurgence in the third. She lost her match in five, leaving the score at 2-1 going into the second round. Rubin extended the Ephs’ lead with a dominant four-game victory at No. 2. At No. 5, O’Neill put on a strong performance early on but was unable to capitalize on her 2-1 lead, eventually dropping the final two games and falling in five. Despite a strong comeback in her third game, Carolyn Kaemmer also struggled at No. 8, falling in four to her Bear opponent to knot the match at 3-3. In the third round, Bogle got the Ephs off to a strong start with a decisive three-game win at No. 1. At No. 4, Northrop struggled to capitalize on an early 2-0 lead, dropping her last three games 11-2, 12-10 and 11-5. With the match again tied, the decision came down to Hannah Kaemmer’s match against Brown’s Erika Kohnen at No. 7. Despite a loss in the first, Hannah Kaemmer came back to take the second and third games 3-11 and 5-11. Kohnen, however, rebounded in the forth with an 11-8 win, leaving the fifth and final game as the tiebreaker for both the individual match and the team title. Hannah Kaemmer fought deep into the fifth but was unable to close out the match, falling 13-11 and leaving the women just behind Brown 5-4.

Levy was proud of his team’s performance. “We lost to Brown 7-2 during the season and almost beat them this week, so without a doubt our players improved and fulfilled their potential,” he said.

The women will compete in the College Squash Association Individual Championships at Amherst on Saturday.

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