NEW HAVEN, Conn. – This weekend, the Yale women's squash team kicked off the 2012-13 season with a second-place finish in the Ivy Scrimmages, with Penn finishing on top.
In Yale's return to the court, the team won its first two matches Saturday, first beating Brown 9-0 and then topping Princeton 5-4. Sunday, though, the Bulldogs ran into a much-improved Penn squad, losing 7-2.
At last season's scrimmages, Harvard topped the Bulldogs in the finals, foreshadowing the eventual Ivy League and national championships for Harvard, with Yale taking second place both times. Penn's victory over the Bulldogs in the finals could simply be a fluke – the Quakers are ranked No. 5 nationally while Harvard and Yale are Nos. 1 and 2 – but it may also signal a shaking-up of the ranks of collegiate women's squash. Harvard has started the year ranked No. 1 three consecutive times, and for the last couple of years only Yale has offered real competition for the Crimson, notably taking the national title in the 2010-11 season. There has been a significant drop-off from the No. 2 position to whichever of Trinity, Princeton, and Penn sits at No. 3, but Yale's hard-fought victory over Princeton in the scrimmages followed by the loss to Penn, not to mention Harvard's inability to even make it into the championships, suggests that the second tier of teams from the last few seasons may blur the distinctions between themselves and the top group in this coming season.
In the actual matches, Yale grabbed an easy first-round victory over No. 9 Brown before entering into a second-round showdown with No. 4 Princeton. The Tigers, playing on the same day as their football team knocked off Yale to beat both the Bulldogs and Crimson in the same season for the first time since 2006, went ahead early against Yale. However, the squash side was able to improve upon the result of the football team, coming from behind to win 5-4.
In the final, Penn got ahead early and never looked back en route to their 7-2 win.
In the first round of matches, senior captain Katie Ballaine, playing in the third spot, fell at the hands of Rachael Goh, three games to none. Ballaine finished last season ranked No. 28, while Goh was Penn's strongest player at No. 10. In the sixth spot, junior Lilly Fast went down in four games to freshman Camille Lanier. At No. 9, senior Katie Harrison was swept by Colleen Fehm.
Down 3-0 already, the Bulldogs were kept off the board in the second round of matches as well. Playing at No. 2 after spending most of last season in the seventh spot, the No. 38 ranked sophomore Shihui Mao fell 3-1 at the hands of No. 13 Nabilla Ariffin. In the fifth spot, junior Gwen Tilghman the nation's No. 24 player, lost in three games to another Penn freshman, Haidi Lala. In the eighth spot, Yale freshman Georgia Blatchford, making her first appearance in the Yale blue and white, was swept by Penn's Courtney Jones.
Yale finally made some headway in the third group of games, but it was too little, too late. Junior Millie Tomlinson, ranked No 2 nationally, swept her way to a victory over Tan Yan Xin, a Penn freshman that hails from Malaysia, where she peaked at a ranking of No. 69 globally. In the fourth spot, No. 6 ranked junior Kim Hay also snatched a 3-0 victory, topping Pia Trikha, ranked sixteenth nationally. Finally, at No. 7, sophomore Issey Norman-Ross was unable to pull out a victory over Yarden Odinak, falling 3-1 at the hands of the No. 17 ranked senior. Norman-Ross finished last season ranked at No. 41.
The Bulldogs will be back in action November 30th against Franklin & Marshall, and will have a chance to avenge their loss on February 3rd, when Penn will come back to the Brady Squash Center.
Report by Calvin Bohn, Yale Sports Publicity