Penn men’s and women’s squash are focused on finishing their regular seasons with critical Ivy League wins.
The Quakers are preparing to travel to New York this Friday, where they will face off against Cornell. On Sunday, they will return home to No. 7 close out the regular season against Columbia. The No. 6 men’s team (9-4, 3-2 Ivy) and the women’s team (6-5, 2-3) are both trying to improve their seeding as they look ahead to the Potter and Howe Cups, which will be played in mid-February.
However, the Red and Blue aren't looking too far past this weekend's opponents; men’s head coach Gilly Lane stressed that his message to his team all year has been to focus on one match at a time. No matter how the matches play out this weekend, the Quakers' mindset will not change.
“We haven’t talked about ranking all year, we haven’t talked about position,” Lane said.
It is difficult not to acknowledge how crucial these matches are for the seeding of both teams in the National Team Championships. The men are trying to avoid facing undefeated powerhouse No. 1 Trinity College (14-0, 6-0 NESCAC) in the first round of the Potter Cup, while the women do not want to match up against No. 1 Harvard (10-0, 5-0 Ivy) in the first round of the Howe Cup. Both squads have lost badly to the top seeds this season by scores of 9-0 and 8-1, respectively.
“We just lost to the No. 1 seed [Harvard] this weekend, so we definitely don’t want to play them first round,” senior captain Melissa Alves said.
The women’s college squash rankings are primed for the most shakeup this weekend. The Quakers currently sit between Ivy foes No. 6 Columbia and No. 8 Cornell. The significance of these matches is not lost on the team. Alves commented that wins this weekend would give them a much better chance at nationals.
On the men’s side, No. 15 Cornell (6-9, 0-5) sits at the bottom of Ivy League standings, having not won a single conference match all season. The Quakers aren’t taking the Big Red lightly, however. Penn has dropped five consecutive matches in Ithaca, and its last win on the road against the Big Red came in 2005.
In contrast, the No. 2 Columbia men’s team (12-1, 5-0) has been nearly unbeatable all season, only dropping one contest to Trinity. The Lions have been dominant in Ivy League play as well, with their closest win a 5-4 victory over Harvard.
“We get a free shot, there’s no pressure on us,” Lane said about the upcoming tilt against Columbia.
While the Potter and Howe Cups and the culmination of another squash season are on the horizon, these final two matches are not being overlooked.