Season Preview | Penn vying to be No. 4 no more
With influx of talented freshmen, Quakers think they can ascend the rankings
November 19, 2009, 3:27 am · Updated November 19, 2009, 12:00 am·
The women’s squash team heads into the 2009-10 season hoping to build upon last year’s hard work and progress — but most importantly, its wins.
The Penn squad finished last season ranked fourth in the country. It dominated most of its matches, losing only to higher-ranked teams en route to a 10-4 season.
The success stemmed from stellar individual play by Kristen Lange and Sydney Scott, who were both named All-Ivy and All-American. Further, Lange was undefeated in conference play and was the 2009 Ivy League Player of the Year.
And the achievement doesn’t stop there: Coach Jack Wyant is even coming off of coaching the Women’s Junior National Team to a fourth-place finish.
Such statistics have earned the Quakers a No. 4 preseason ranking.
“Our expectations are to be one of the top teams in the country,” Wyant said. “If the women continue to work as they have this fall, diligently and intelligently, we can end up having an undefeated season.”
Much of Penn’s toughest competition, No. 1 Princeton and No. 2 Harvard, is from within the Ivy League. Such success hinges most heavily on the play of four seniors, co-captains Lange and Scott, Britt Hebden and Christina Matthias.
“Their responsibility this year is to finish out their fabulous Penn careers in style and with a lot of success,” Wyant said. “They will determine how we do this season.”
Lange enters the season hoping to go out on top after finishing each of her three seasons as national individual runner-up.
Beyond its seniors, the team is expecting much from its highly touted freshman class. The five newcomers include Yarden Odinak, who played for the Malaysian national team and Rachael Goh, who is already familiar with Wyant having played on his American national team over the summer.
“I think they are the best freshman class [in the country],” Wyant declared.
The veterans feel that the team’s rookies are already positively impacting the team.
“The freshman girls are just kind of a breath of fresh air for the team,” Lange said. “We have been a very old team and now we have these five new girls who inspire all of us to play better and get excited for the season.”
In individual rankings, the Quakers have three of the nation’s top 15 players in No. 2 Lange, No. 9 Scott, and No. 14 Goh. With so much individual talent, the team is hoping to employ an attacking style, one Wyant learned from the Egyptian team at the World Championships.
“This year, we are going to attack a lot more,” Lange said. “We go for shots and go for things that are more of a risk and a little lower percentage. We have great girls who can play this low percentage game much more.”
And Penn wants to extend that attack to the national rankings, hoping that the combination of nationally ranked players and freshman potential is the key to moving up those elusive three spots to become the nation’s top team.