The Penn women’s squash team may have scored its most satisfying victory of the season on Jan. 26, when it came back to knock off then fourth-ranked Princeton, 5-4, on the Tigers’ courts after trailing 4-1.
But less than a month later back in New Jersey, Princeton avenged that loss with a 7-2 win over the Quakers in the first round of the Howe Cup Tournament, ending the Red and Blue’s chances at their first College Squash Association team championship since 1999-2000.
Penn (10-4, 4-2 Ivy) entered the championship weekend seeded fourth, one slot ahead of revenge-minded Princeton.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to their team and their coaches,” Penn coach Jack Wyant said. “They made good adjustments in between the two matches and they were the aggressors. I think we played a bit tentatively, and that hurt us on Friday.”
The Quakers rebounded from Friday’s disappointment to record a decisive 8-1 victory over No. 8 Dartmouth in the consolation bracket. The women had swept Dartmouth in their first meeting earlier this season.
“It was really hard to come back the next day, but I think on the whole, the team played well and showed we were the superior team,” Wyant said.
However, Wyant would be less pleased with the Red and Blue’s Sunday performance against No. 6 Stanford. Although Penn defeated the Cardinals, 6-3, sophomore Yarden Odinak lost her chance at an undefeated season, dropping an individual match to fall to 13-1 on the year.
“[The Stanford match] was not a good way to finish the weekend,” Wyant said. “I was really hopeful that we could get a 9-0 sweep.”
Sophomore Pia Trikha, however, preserved her 14-0 undefeated season, contributing to what has been a solid effort from the sophomore class, which will have to meet the task of replacing the invaluable leadership of lone upperclassman Annie Madeira.
“[The sophomores] are leaders, starting tomorrow,” Wyant explained. “They’re the seniors, so how they go is pretty much how the team will go. I think they’ll step up and do well.”
The weekend gave Penn its tenth victory, marking the sixth straight ten-win campaign in seven seasons under Wyant.
“We ended up where we started in terms of preseason ranking, so we fulfilled the expectations of those around us,” Wyant said. “It is on the current sophomores and freshmen to make the difference for next year if they want to improve their overall position.”