The Harvard women’s squash team added two more tallies to the win column this weekend, notching victories over Ivy League foes Columbia and Cornell.
A week after sitting its top four players and coming away with a perfect 9-0 victory over St. Lawrence, the No. 1 Crimson (9-0, 5-0 Ivy) returned with a full lineup and came out on top to stay undefeated in both nonconference and Ancient Eight play.
Harvard took commanding victories in both matches, topping the Lions (6-4, 1-4) by a score of 9-0 on Sunday and beating the No. 6 Big Red (7-3, 3-2) in an 8-1 decision on Saturday. With wins over Princeton and second place Penn already under its belt, the Crimson is the frontrunner for the 2014 Ivy title.
“The Ivy title is always in the back of our minds when we’re playing Ivy League opponents,” junior co-captain Haley Mendez said. “We felt a little bit more comfortable going into the Cornell-Columbia matches, so now we’re really looking towards this coming Friday match against Yale, which will probably be the decider for the Ivy title.”
HARVARD 9, COLUMBIA 0
Harvard proved it deserved its No. 1 ranking on Sunday, as the team breezed to a 9-0 rout of No. 9 Columbia.
“It was definitely a very strong weekend all around,” co-captain Natasha Anzik said. “We had a lot of girls who didn’t play as well on Saturday [make] some adjustments, and everything sort of came together on Sunday.”
The Crimson swept positions one through six, as all Harvard players won their matches by 3-0 decisions. Junior Amanda Sobhy retained her unblemished record at the top position with a victory over Colette Sultana, 11-5, 11-5, 11-1, and Mendez replicated the feat at the second position with an 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 win over Grace Van Arkel.
Junior Julianne Chu also had an important victory at the sixth position, as she topped Leah Barnet, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7, to earn her second conference triumph of the weekend.
“Megan Murray and Julianne Chu had big wins this weekend in the nine and six positions,” Mendez said. “They’ve had some tough matches over January, so it was nice to see them come up strong and get two Ivy League wins under their belts. It gives the team confidence going into this week.”
Harvard’s only dropped game came in the seventh position, where freshman Dileas McGowan lost the first set, 11-9, to Columbia’s Alisha Maityo. But McGowan came back strong, and won the next three sets by scores of 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 to take the match.
HARVARD 8, CORNELL 1
Harvard earned its first win of the weekend on Saturday, notching an 8-1 decision over Cornell.
“Everyone just played really solidly,” Anzik said. “By the end [they] were playing really great squash. I’m really proud of everyone.”
Harvard’s only match loss was at the eighth position, where sophomore Isabelle Dowling was bested by Olivia Wherry in five games. Sobhy returned to the lineup a week after making it to the semifinals of the 2014 Harrow Greenwich Open, where she fell to New Zealand’s Joelle King, the world’s fifth-ranked women’s player. On Saturday, Sobhy posted scores of 11-9, 11-3, 11-1 to cruise to a 3-0 win over Cornell’s Danielle Letorneau
.Mendez and freshman Katie Tutrone also beat their opponents by 3-0 scores to give Harvard the sweep at the first three positions. The Crimson’s other three-game victories came in the sixth and ninth spots, as Chu and Murray notched 3-0 wins over their respective opponents. A week after coming out on top at the first position, sophomore Michelle Gemmell returned to the fifth position and posted a 3-1 victory.
The Crimson now looks to Tuesday’s matchup against No. 2 Trinity, which will be a rematch of last year’s Howe Cup finals, in its quest to stay perfect on the season.
“Trinity’s a really big match for us,” Anzik said. “They’re undefeated as well, and I think going in on paper we might be considered the underdog. We’re going to use that to our advantage, and not put too much pressure on ourselves. What we’re emphasizing is just staying the same: taking the momentum from the weekend and going up there and playing the best we can.”
—Staff writer Glynis K. Healey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.