On Super Bowl Sunday, the Quakers completed the “Super Squash Sweep,” putting the finishing touches on an undefeated weekend that featured victories over three top-10 teams.
Coming off of a disappointing 9-0 loss to No. 1 Princeton on Wednesday, No. 3 Penn (10-2, 3-2 Ivy) headed up to Rhode Island for a weekend that would likely make or break the Quakers’ season, as they faced No. 9 Brown and No. 7 Stanford on Saturday, topped off with a critical matchup with No. 5 Yale on Sunday.
But surprisingly, coach Jack Wyant was grateful for the road test.
“I think Wednesday helped us in terms of being a road match and having had that experience of trying to adapt, albeit unsuccessfully, helped us this weekend,” he said. “They definitely adapted better.”
Wyant knew that starting off hot was pivotal to the Quakers, noting that “[the team’s] morale was down a little bit, but having three matches was a great opportunity for us to get into the winning swing of things.”
Quick to wash the losing taste out of the mouths of the Red and Blue was the first rotation of senior Pia Trikha, freshman Ailsa Agnew and sophomore Colleen Fehm. Their dominance against Brown (10-3, 1-2), with wins of 3-0, 3-1 and 3-0, set the tone that back-to-back losses would not be tolerated for the Quakers.
That strong start was echoed throughout the entire squad, with Penn completely outplaying the Bears en route to a convincing 8-1 victory in the morning session. Of the 27 games, the Quakers won an astounding 22, winning six of the ten matches against Brown in 3-0 fashion.
The win, which at the time put the Quakers back at .500 in the Ivy League, was just the beginning of a weekend to remember.
Later in the afternoon, the Red and Blue entered battle with West Coast powerhouse Stanford. Again, the Cardinal were no match for the Quakers.
It was the unsung heroes who made the difference for Penn. Despite losses from their top two players, the Quakers were able to get huge wins from the bottom seven, carrying the Red and Blue to a 7-2 victory.
Though not nearly as dominating as earlier in the day, any win is a good win, especially when facing a nationally ranked team in your second match of the day.
And on the day of “The Big Game,” the Quakers prepared for a big game of their own, squaring off with No. 5 Yale (9-2, 2-1) in a match that could put them back over .500 in the Ivy League with a quality win over a conference opponent.
Just as Wyant wanted, the Quakers were able to stay “in the winning swing of things,” as they took care of the Bulldogs, 7-2.
The tenacity of the Quakers was portrayed by senior Rachel Goh, who Wyant was thrilled to see win.
“It’s great that Rachel won,” Wyant said. “She’s had some really close matches, and for her, to win a five-game match was really awesome.”
So with four matches against four top-10 teams, all on the road, the Quakers emerged 3-1, including a 2-1 record in Ivy League play.
The key? Depth.
“The depth has been great. We’re a deeper team this year than I’ve ever had and that means that we can suffer injuries and still slot in really good players,” Wyant said.
With only two matches left against Columbia and Cornell before the Howe Cup begins, Wyant’s expectations for his squad are simple.
“I think we’re going to win both.”
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