This weekend Penn squash will have to fend off another top-five opponent eager to put a dent in their championship aspirations along with a team willing to bare it all in order to pull off a monumental upset.
The matchup for the men’s side in particular carries serious implications as the winner between the Quakers (8-2, 2-1 Ivy) and Yale (8-2, 3-0) will control their destiny in the Ivy League.
Penn’s last triumph over the Elis came 10 years ago when current associate head coach Gilly Lane put the finishing touches on a 6-3 victory with a sweep at the top of the ladder.
The last time out against the Bulldogs, the Quakers nearly ended their 12-match drought in a heart-breaking 5-4 defeat in the consolation bracket of the Collegiate Squash Association Nationals. Sitting at No. 2 in the nation, the Quakers are staring down their best chance in 10 years to add another unforgettable moment to a fairytale season.
“I think we all remember what happened last year,” sophomore Hayes Murphy said. “We’re fired up and ready to go.”
Before they get a chance to put a leash on the Bulldogs, 16th-ranked Brown (4-6, 0-3) will try to wreak a bit of havoc of their own. The Red and Blue will have to fend off the trap game that their lowest ranked Ivy opponent presents.
The women’s squash team (8-1, 2-1) will try to continue their incendiary play of late. Outside of their matches against Harvard and Trinity, opponents have barely had a chance to warm up before being bounced by 9-0 or 8-1 score lines.
Yale and Brown are just two opponents standing in the way of the team’s ultimate goal: the Howe Cup Finals.
“We’ve only got four more weeks until nationals,” Wyant added. “So we’re gonna work really hard to get ready.”
Ringe has become a feared venue for even the most experienced teams this year. Both squads have combined for a 10-0 record and made Philadelphia a city in which no team is safe from an upset.
Both teams have come a long way since Yale’s last trek to the 215 in 2014. Then-freshman Anaka Alankamony clinched the 5-4 win for her team with a five-set thriller over then senior Millie Tomlinson, ranked No. 3 in the nation individually heading into the season, while the men fell, 9-0.
Just two short years later, Penn women's squash finds itself as the favorite in all four matches heading into its annual weekend clash with Yale (10-1, 3-0) and Brown (6-4, 0-3). Even the coaching staff has been surprised by the team’s rapid ascent.
“I’d say we’re ahead of schedule,” Wyant added. “But we have earned the right to compete for the title.”
With four wins in a 48-hour window, the Red and Blue can inch closer to putting the finishing touches on one of the most successful years in program history.
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