PRINCETON, N.J. – Today the undefeated No. 1 Yale women's squash team triumphed 5-4 over No. 2 Harvard in the finals of the Howe Cup, earning the national title with a thrilling victory. Playing at Princeton's Jadwin Gym, the Bulldogs (17-0, 6-0 Ivy) faced the rival Crimson (11-2, 5-1 Ivy) in a rematch of the top two teams in both the Ivy League and the nation.
The last time the teams played, it was for both the Ivy League title and the number one ranking in college squash, and the matchup lived up to the hype, coming down to a five-game match between senior Caroline Reigeluth for Yale and Harvard's Sarah Mumanachit. This time around the stakes were even higher, as both teams blew through their early matchups to face each other in a seemingly inevitable showdown for the national championship.
Yale started off with 3-0 wins by senior Sarah Toomey and freshman Lily Fast, along with a tough loss by sophomore Katie Ballaine, then got wins from freshman Millie Tomlinson and junior Rhetta Nadas to go up 4-2 after Alexandra van Arkel's loss in the eighth spot. Reigeluth had a chance to clinch the victory again for the Bulldogs in a rematch of the final match from two weeks ago, but Harvard's Mumanachit got her revenge 3-0. Next, senior captain Logan Greer very nearly gave Harvard's Laura Gemmell her first collegiate loss before falling in five games. This left the match tied at 4-4, with only freshman Kim Hay, in the fourth spot, left to play.
It all came down to Hay, a freshman out of the United Kingdom, facing off against Harvard's June Tiong. Last time the two played, Hay came out with a 3-0 victory and relatively little trouble, but that time the match wasn't for a national championship.
Before the match started, Hay said her "mind was all over the place," and indeed she struggled early, dropping the first game.
"After that," Hay said, "I knew to just go on and play my game," and she did, calming down to win her next three games in an electric atmosphere and take the Howe Cup title for Yale.
The national championship caps off a magical year for the Bulldogs, and the team won't be going away anytime soon. The losses of captain Logan Greer and fellow seniors Sarah Toomey and Caroline Reigeluth will certainly hurt, but there are also many positives. Promising seasons from freshmen Tomlinson and Hay, who between them had only one loss all season, along with excellent production from the rest of the team and a strong recruiting class, indicate that next year's team will be in the running for the national championship once again.
On Saturday night Greer was awarded the prestigious Richey Award, for "the women's college squash player who best exemplifies the ideals of squash in her love and devotion to the game her strong sense of fairness, and her excellence of play and leadership". For Greer, this tops off a stellar college squash career that finished with her playing as the best player on the best team in the country.
No. 1 Laura Gemmell (H) def. Logan Greer (Y) 3-2
No. 2 Camilla Tomlinson (Y) def. Nirasha Guruge (H) 3-0
No. 3 Sarah Toomey (Y) def. Alisha Mashruwala (H) 3-0
No. 4 Kimberley Hay (Y) def. June Tiong (H) 3-1
No. 5 Rhetta Nadas (Y) def. Natasha Kingshott (H) 3-2
No. 6 Cece Cortes (H) def. Katie Ballaine (Y) 3-1
No. 7 Sarah Mumanachit (H) def. Caroline Reigeluth (Y) 3-0
No. 8 Bethan Williams (H) def. Alexandra van Arkel (Y) 3-0
No. 9 Lilllian Fast (Y) def. Alexandra Zindman (H) 3-0
report by Calvin Bohn '14, Yale Sports Publicity