WOMEN'S SQUASH: Crimson Falls to No. 2 in Finals
Though Harvard women’s squash won its first nine matches of the year, the team lost its spot atop both the Ivy League and the national rankings after dropping contests to Yale in both the regular season and the postseason.
“We had a tough season because we didn’t go undefeated and unfortunately lost that national final,” said sophomore Laura Gemmell, who throughout the season played in the No. 1 spot. “But I think everyone worked really hard, and everyone made individual improvements in their game.”
The Crimson (11-2, 5-1 Ivy) faced great expectations going into the season.
While the team had a successful season by most standards, the two 5-4 losses to the No. 1 Bulldogs left Harvard short of reaching its ambitions.
“We had some pretty close matches with Yale, and we were disappointed that we lost, but we did try hard,” junior No. 2 Nirasha Guruge said. “Yale got the better of us this year, but I think we will come back stronger next year.”
The team started the season on a dominant run, winning nine in a row and taking its first six matches, 9-0.
But the competition became a little stiffer when the undefeated Bulldogs faced the then-No. 2 Crimson in the defacto Ivy League championship.
Yale took two of the first three matches, but Harvard came back to tie the score at three apiece. Then-No.1 Gemmell won her match in three sets, giving the Crimson an edge, 4-3. But the Bulldogs responded by winning the final two matches and claiming the 2011 Ivy League title.
It was Harvard’s first loss since February of 2009.
The Crimson then prepared for the final team competition of the year—the CSA Team National Championships—in hopes of winning a second consecutive national championship.
“We had the goal of winning the nationals, but I don’t think the expectations got to many people,” Gemmell said. “Most people didn’t really think about it. If you look at our team, we have multiple national champions. We have people who have played in world championships. I don’t [believe the players] were putting too much pressure on themselves this year.”
In the opening rounds, Harvard regained its dominance en route to a 9-0 shutout of Cornell, followed by a victory over Trinity, 6-3, in the semifinals.
With that victory, the Crimson advanced to the finals for a rematch with Yale.
The Bulldogs again jumped out to a 2-1 lead, but Harvard would come back to tie the match at four all. Yet in a repeat ending, Yale pulled out the final set and was crowned the 2011 CSA Women’s National Team Champion.
“Even though we lost the national final, we still had a great season,” Gemmell said. “I’m incredibly proud of our whole team, and it’s just going motivate us for next year.”