While the blizzard raged on, Penn women’s squash found its fire on Saturday.
The Quakers (7-1) narrowly defeated Trinity (7-2) with a score of 5-4 in Hartford, Conn. The second-ranked visitors were able to take down the sixth-ranked hosts thanks to some clutch performances in a tight spot.
Coming off a resounding victory over Stanford at home last week, coach Jack Wyant was rightfully impressed with his team’s resilience on the road.
“We started off a little shaky, we lost two of the first three matches at number nine and three. But we steadied the ship, and the second shift did a great job for us winning at two, five, and eight,” he said.
Winning the clinching match in straight games, sophomore Marie Stephan was able to best her opponent, Amber Kimberly, with scores of 12-10, 12-10, and 17-15.
Following the match, Stephan emphasized the need to keep trending upwards.
“We lost twice to [Trinity] last year in the regular season and at nationals, so after losing to Harvard, we really needed this win for our confidence,” Stephan said. “It’s good to keep the momentum going into nationals because now we have that good win that we can rely on and build from.”
This was not the first time these two have met, as they have faced off at nationals, and — as they hail from France and England, respectively — also in European junior tournaments.
“I wouldn’t say we have a rivalry, but every time I play her, I know I’m going to have a tough match because we play the same game. Even though I won in three games it was almost 45 minutes I think, with a ton of tie breaks,” she said. “I know I’m always in for a long match with her.”
On the men’s side the Bantams (12-0) took care of their opponents from Penn (7-2) with relative ease, only dropping one match of the nine. Penn entered the match after a two week lull since their split decision up at Harvard and Dartmouth.
Wyant expounded on the sheer dominance of the perennial top-ranked side.
“The Trinity men are an extremely talented team, they’re all so well trained, and just a hard working bunch,” Wyant said. “Unlike the Harvard match where we walked away feeling like we could have done better than the 6-3 score line or won the match, Trinity is too good for us at the moment, especially on their courts.”
The only victorious Quaker, sophomore Derek Hsue, admitted Trinity was just a notch above on the day, but explained how he found a way to squeeze out a win.
“I think I was a little more patient today and was able to control the match a little more than him, so I was able to pull it out. Each game was really close but I got a little lucky to come out ahead,” Hsue said.
The real story from the day's excitement regards women’s number one freshman Reeham Salah, as she was forced to forfeit her match due to injury sustained during play.
“She was up one love, down 9-8 second game, when there was a collision at the front right corner of the court and she fell awkwardly on her right elbow and was unable to continue. So that was a real disappointment because that was a good match up unto that moment, with Reeham holding a slight lead,” Wyant said. “I was upset for her and she was gutted that she couldn’t finish the match. Fortunately for us we secured that fifth point so she was able to bow out and the team pulled through for us.”
Regarding the status of her injury, Wyant is optimistic that it’s a minor bone bruise, but will know more after a proper medical examination.
Both the men and women will host Princeton this weekend at Ringe Courts, beginning the final stretch of all Ivy play.
“There’s only a month left, so every day really counts now,” Hsue added.
The Quakers will play the next four matches at home, and hopefully can find a way to stay hot as the temperatures drop.
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