The Penn women's squash team has four returning All-Americans, including one first team and three second team selections. The Quakers' lineup also boasts two first team All-Ivy selections as well as the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Last week, Penn coach Demer Holleran was named the National Coach of the Year in addition to being awarded the President's Cup in honor of her contributions to the game. But perhaps most importantly, the Quakers are the reigning regular season, Ivy League and Howe Cup National Champions. The Quakers ended their season ranked first in the nation in a season that also saw the Red and Blue's unprecedented victories over Ivy rivals Harvard and Princeton. And now they're ready for more. The Quakers lost six varsity players who played in the top 13 to graduation. In addition, they will be without two upperclassmen until January -- senior Helen Bamber is studying abroad and junior Christina Eynon is nursing a back injury. However, the Red and Blue firmly believe they can recreate the success of the past year. "I want to get them to play to the best of their ability," Holleran said. "If it was unrealistic to win, I wouldn't set this as a goal for us. [Because of last year] we gained a confidence in ourselves and an understanding that it is possible." However, the Quakers also understand what they can't do -- and won't do -- is win championships based on past history. "With this young team, we can't overlook any of our opponents. It's a different season and a different team, and we can't expect to win based on last year's success," senior co-captain Lauren Patrizio said. In addition, the Red and Blue realize that the key to producing a winning season is independent of the rankings and the standings and can only be generated by the team itself. "We don't want to let down what we can be," senior co-captain Regina Borromeo said. "[Success] will depend on how hard we work and how determined we are. We can win again if we work hard enough." The youthfulness of the team may play a significant role in the outcome of the the first half of the season, especially with Bamber and Eynon unavailable for play. "We have three freshmen who haven't seen intercollegiate competition, which is a disadvantage, experience-wise. [But] the ability is there for them to rise to the challenge," Holleran said. This past weekend the Quakers took another step toward the starting line of their season by playing in the Ivy Scrimmage hosted by Cornell. Penn won its match against Dartmouth, 6-3, but fell to Harvard, 8-1. "It was an eye-opening experience especially against Harvard, because we saw how good we need to be in order to win. I think it will motivate us to work that much harder," Patrizio said. The Quakers will begin the defense of their Triple Crown at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, when they host a young Cornell team. "I expect a very good fight from them," Holleran said. "They're athletic; they fight hard; and we'll have to really apply ourselves in order to win." And despite the Quakers' belief that this season is a fresh start, history points to the Red and Blue winning their 12th consecutive match. The Quakers are 4-0 against the Big Red all-time, with their most recent victory coming at home to open their record-breaking season. "They have a relatively new varsity team," Borromeo said. "If we can individually focus on our matches, I feel we will come away with a win." Let the defense begin.Comments powered by Disqus
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