Women’s squash ends regular season strongly
No. 3 Quakers enter Howe Cup riding a five-game win streak
February 10, 2013, 9:26 pm·
Another day, another ‘W’ for the women’s squash team.
Penn (12-2, 5-2 Ivy) won yet another match on Sunday, this time against Cornell (12-5, 3-4). With the win, the team ends its regular season on a five-match winning streak and remains undefeated in February after losing on Jan. 30 to Princeton.
“I think that they have bounced back nicely,” coach Jack Wyant said. “They have continued to work hard and they have done a good job since the Princeton loss. They have been more proactive and attacking than they were in the Princeton match.”
After completing their five-match road trip with a thrashing of the Columbia Lions on Friday, the Quakers returned to Philadelphia to play their final match of the season.
Against Cornell, the Red and Blue took care of business very quickly. Penn won the first four individual matches and then clinched its 7-2 victory with a 3-0 win by freshman Haidi Lala.
“I think that we all brought our game and tried to emphasize the things our coach has been drilling in our heads for the entire season, like staying tough and using our strengths and advantages to get points,” senior Yarden Odinak said.
The victory for Penn came on a special day for the team’s five seniors, as Odinak, Nabilla Ariffin, Pia Trikha, Rachael Goh and Stephanie Vogel all played their last match at Ringe Courts.
“It’s more than just squash,” Ariffin said. “It’s like family, and coach Wyant has tried to instill life lessons along the way.”
“We have a joke about how we are a “squamily”, or a squash family,” Trikha said. “We have a really great support system here … I know for sure that in ten years, twenty years or thirty years, we’ll be just as close. I think that’s something that is really unique in squash.”
For the seniors, it has been quite the ride as varsity squash athletes. Their freshman season, they helped lead the Red and Blue all the way to the finals of the Howe Cup before falling to Harvard. They have ended every season in the top five since then.
“[The seniors] have done a fantastic job of maintaining that we are one of the elite teams,” Wyant said. “They have been hard workers and great sportswomen, and we’re going to miss them.”
Now, the veterans will be looking to help their team become national champions for the first time during their tenure at Penn. And they are hungrier than Takeru Kobayashi at a hot dog eating contest.
When asked what she is looking forward to at the Howe Cup, Ariffin had a clear and concise answer: “To kill, crush and destroy.”
“We have some scores to settle and a couple of teams that we are looking forward to playing again,” Goh explained.
In order to win the title, the No. 3 Quakers will have to knock off the only two teams that defeated them this season: Harvard and Princeton. And the women think they can get the best of the top two teams.
“I think what is going to differentiate us from Harvard and Princeton will be how much we want it, our support system and our heart,” Vogel said. “I might not be playing [in the Howe Cup], but I will have lost my voice by the time I come home.”
The Howe Cup will take place in New Haven, Conn. from Feb. 15-17.