Winter playoff picture: Week one

Izzy Polanco

The women’s squash team placed third in last weekend’s NESCAC Tournament. Next week, they will head to Philadelphia to compete at the CSA National Championship. (Photo courtesy of Sports Information.)

Women’s squash places third in NESCAC Tournament

Last weekend, women’s squash (12-8, 7-1 in NESCAC) placed third in the NESCAC Tournament, hosted at home at the Simon Squash Center. After beating the Bowdoin Polar Bears (12-8, 5-5 in NESCAC) in the first round, the Ephs lost to the second-seeded Tufts Jumbos (12-5, 7-1 in NESCAC) in the semifinal round.

The third-seeded Ephs bested the Polar Bears 8-1 in the first round of the tournament, marking an improvement from their 7-2 victory over the Polar Bears during the regular season. According to team member Haley Jefferson ’23, Bowdoin was missing a player due to injury when the teams faced off during the regular season victory, emphasizing the significance of their win. “While [Bowdoin] had a stronger lineup than the last time we played, we won 8-1 [in the NESCAC quarterfinal], which I think is a testament to how much better we’ve gotten as a team over the season,” she wrote.

Despite losing to the second-seeded Jumbos in the semifinal round, the Ephs played a tightly contested 6-3 match, which also came as an improvement from the 8-1 loss the Ephs conceded during the regular season and last year’s 5-4 loss to the Jumbos in the semifinal round. Co-captain Quan Ng ’23 expressed pride in the team’s growth over the course of the season. “The margins for our loss was much slimmer, and many of our players played some of their best squash during this match… [Jefferson] and I had lost to our Tufts opponents two weeks ago during the regular season, but were able to win this time around,” she said.

Next weekend, the team will head to Philadelphia to compete at the College Squash Association (CSA) National Championships hosted by the University of Pennsylvania, where it will face Stanford (5-5) in the first round of playoffs on Feb. 17. Jefferson, who won both her matches this weekend, said the team is looking forward to challenging regular-season opponents. “It’s a quick turnaround having played some of the teams just this past weekend at NESCACs, but I think we’re really energized for our first-round matchup against Stanford, who we were unable to play during the regular season,” she wrote.

Women’s swim and dive finish second in NESCAC Tournament

Women’s swim and dive (11- 0, 6-0 in NESCAC) racked up 1614.5 points, trailing the Tufts Jumbos (11-0, 3-1 in NESCAC) by 370 points. The Ephs entered this weekend’s NESCAC Tournament ranked third in the NCAA. Tufts’ 1984.5 score is the most points scored by any team at a NESCAC meet since 2016. The Ephs have not lost a Div. III dual meet since 2008.

Co-captain Amanda Wager ’23.5 applauded strong performances, including diver Emma Casey ’23, who placed second on the 1M, and Sophia Verkleeren ’25, who won “Swimmer of the Meet” after sweeping the 400 IM on Saturday. “The positive and fun environment we created certainly paid off during our swims and dives. Overall, the team overcame a lot of challenges, and although we had some tough prelims swims, we tended to come back with a vengeance at finals,” Wager wrote.

Reflecting on the season, Wager added that she took pride in the fervency with which the team defended its dual meet win streak against competitors in the regular season, like Tufts, who took home the NESCAC Championship last year against the Ephs’ second-place finish. “We knew our dual meet against them this year would be one of [the] hardest in-season meets to win and to keep the dual meet streak,” she wrote in an email to the Record. “I was really impressed by the team’s ability to not be scared of the challenge, and we made a statement at that meet by winning almost every individual event.”

Swimmers with the fastest times in each event across Div. III will be invited to compete in the NCAA Championships on March 15 in Greensboro, N.C. From Feb. 14-15, Casey and Adelaide Herman ’25 will compete at Diving Regionals, hosted by NYU, where they will contend for NCAA-qualifying placements.

Men’s squash bested by Trinity in NESCAC Tournament Championship

The men’s squash team (15- 6, 8-0 in NESCAC) finished second in last weekend’s NESCAC Tournament, hosted at home in the Simon Squash Center. The team defeated Colby (7-11, 5-4 in NESCAC) 9-0 in the first round, and won a close semifinal match with Tufts (9-7, 6-2 in NESCAC) 6-3. In the championship final, the Ephs lost to the Trinity Bantams (15-4, 5-0 in NESCAC), who entered the match ranked fifth nationally. Historically, Trinity has dominated the NESCAC Tournament, winning the NESCAC Championship for the last 16 years since the championship’s inception in 2007.

The Ephs will face the Bantams again at the men’s CSA National Championship, beginning Feb. 24 at the Bantam’s home courts in Hartford, Conn. According to co-captain Udai Pal ’23, the tightly-contested matches against Trinity have given the team the confidence and renewed sense of urgency it needs to realize this season’s goal of placing within the top 10 teams at Nationals. In order to place in the top 10, the Ephs will need to beat out the rest of the teams in the B-division, which consists of teams ranked ninth through 16th nationally.

“The team has improved every week throughout the season, and I think that if we are able to put in two great weeks of training, we can peak at the right time and make some noise at Nationals,” Pal wrote in an email to the Record.

For Pal, this year’s Nationals will mark his last on the team. “While it is certainly bittersweet, I feel like I am playing the best squash of my college career right now… Our mantra all season has been ‘hungry dogs run faster,’ and I believe the team has truly embodied the essence of that throughout the season,” he wrote.