It was only fitting that the showdown between the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the country should come down to the wire. In the final points of the last match of the day, the top-ranked Harvard women’s squash team fell to Princeton, 5-4, in New Jersey.
The result came down to the final grouping, as the two teams, which both entered the day undefeated, split the first six matches. Crimson sophomore Amanda Sobhy quickly defeated her opponent in the No. 1 position to win in straight sets, but the Tigers were by no means ready to lay down quietly.
In the No. 4 spot, Rachel Leizman of Princeton outlasted Harvard freshman Michelle Gemmell. Although Gemmell found herself one point away from a Crimson victory, Leizman continued to battle and ended up winning the set and the match, 12-10, in the fifth.
With each team having won four matches, the contest would be decided by the pairing in the No. 7 spot between co-captain Sarah Mumanachit of Harvard and Alex Sawin. The two players battled deep into a fourth set tiebreaker until Sawin finally converted on a match ball, allowing her to win the set, 16-14, while at the same time sealing the match and the Tigers’ victory.
“The Princeton crowd was going nuts,” fellow co-captain Natasha Kingshott said. “The energy in the gymnasium was unbelievable. This is what college squash is all about…. [Mumanachit] really never gave up. In the end it didn’t quite work out for us, but we were just so proud of her.”
The Tigers won two of the first three matches in the opening shift. At the No. 6 position, Kingshott made short work of her opponent and proceeded to win in three sets.
Although sophomore Haley Mendez took home the first set, she could not keep up with her Princeton rival and went on to lose the next three.
Sophomore Megan Murray, who competed in the No. 9 spot, also fell in a tight, five-set battle to Tara Harrington.
But the Crimson bounced back in the next set of matches, digging itself out of a hole to knot the contest at three matches apiece.
After pulling out a five-setter the day before against Penn, senior Laura Gemmell showed no signs of fatigue en route to a tough, four-game victory in the No. 2 position.
Playing at No. 5 and holding her opponent to seven, two, and eight points in each game, freshman Saumya Karki rolled to a straight-set victory.
But despite finding herself up two sets in the No. 8 spot, freshman Isabelle Dowling could not hang on against Tigers sophomore Hallie Dewey and fell in a five-set battle, losing the final game by just two points.
“We all fought really hard, and I think this was a good learning experience, particularly for the freshmen,” Kingshott said. “For [Dowling]…she’ll hopefully learn from that experience, and in the next match, hopefully she’ll remember the situation she was in.”
The final grouping was full of drama, and Princeton emerged with the victory by taking two of the final three matches.
Sobhy continued her dominance of her competition, holding Julie Cerullo of the Tigers below four points in each game of the sophomore’s straight-set victory. Sobhy has never lost while playing for Harvard.