The Harvard women’s squash team has a lot to live up to this season. The Crimson is coming off both an Ivy and national championship and is ranked No. 1 in the CSA preseason polls. But Harvard did not disappoint in its season opener, winning 9-0 against Boston College on Friday at the MIT Round Robin Tournament.
The Crimson is now 38-0 all time in season openers and extended its winning streak—dating back to a win over Stanford on Nov. 18, 2011—to 18 games. Harvard swept each of its nine matches against the Eagles, 3-0.
“The match we played against BC was a good way for all of us to work through some of the aspects of our games that we have been focusing on in practice,” senior Eliza Calihan wrote in an email. “It is helpful to get match experience in before the season starts, especially for the freshmen. It was also exciting for us to play against BC, as they are and up-and-coming team. ”
The Eagles are coming off a season ranked as the No. 1 club team in the country and are beginning to compete with more established varsity programs in the Northeast. But as a club team, BC had its hands full against Harvard, which is considered one of the best women’s squash programs in the country.
The Crimson rested many of its top players over the weekend, and as a result, many of the freshmen on the team were able to make their collegiate debuts. Saumya Karki—playing at No. 1 position for Harvard—played Boston College’s Lilly Havens, winning, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7.
Isabelle Dowling debuted at No. 3 spot, besting the Eagles’ Madeline Bette, 11-5, 11-7, 11-6.
Karki will most likely play somewhere in the middle of the Crimson ladder this year when the regular season starts, while Dowling is currently fighting for a spot in the varsity nine. Both players garnered valuable match experience against BC, which Harvard players say will prove useful in more important matches later in the season.
“We played really well, everyone came out strong, [and] almost all of our freshmen got to play which was really exciting,” junior Natasha Anzik said. “I think that this weekend, along with the Ivy scrimmages last weekend really tested us and got us fired up for the rest of the season. We’ve been training since day one back at school, so everyone’s really excited to keep going. “
Freshman Alexandra Sperry, playing at the No. 9 spot, defeated Kristy Barnes, 11-2, 11-0, 11-2, in one of the more lopsided matches of the day. Sperry joined the team as a walk-on only a few short weeks ago but is already contributing to the team’s efforts, beating her opponent while only dropping four points.
“The freshmen have been playing really, really well,” Anzik said. “This is more of a setting where you can really get the nerves out with no pressure, and they all came out playing amazing and at their best.”
Sophomore Megan Murray—playing at No. 2 position—defeated Cassandre Burke, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7, in the closest match of the day. Calihan, playing No. 4, defeated BC’s Mary Hanraha, 11-6, 11-5, 11-1.
Anzik bested BC’s Caroline Kulig in three sets, 11-5, 11-3, 11-5. No. 6 Yuleissy Ramirez defeated the Eagles’ Allie Goguen, 11-7, 11-6, 11-4.
Georgiana Brinkley, playing at the No. 7 spot, defeated the Eagles’ Abigail Regan, 11-2, 11-2, 11-6, and Julie Monrad—playing at No. 8—defeated her opponent, 11-2, 11-3, 11-2. Neither player allowed her respective opponent to score more than 10 points over the course of three sets.
“As a team, we are excited for another season, and we hope to defend our national title,” Calihan wrote. “That said, we are definitely not taking anything for granted and are working even harder to improve our games. Our coaches emphasize that, if we work hard every day and focus on our individual and team performance goals, the results will take care of themselves.”