NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The No. 4 Yale Bulldogs will culminate a season of hard work and excellent squash this weekend at the Howe Cup national championships in Princeton, N.J.
Despite beginning the season with a talented squad and the highest possible expectations, the Bulldogs (15-3, 5-2 Ivy) came up short in their quest to win an Ivy League title. Coach Dave Talbott says that the tournament will be the team's chance to make good on its second goal for the season: a national championship.
"The team has this weekend to show their capabilities." Talbott said. "The women are excited to have the opportunity to fulfill their own expectations and are good to go."
Several formidable opponents stand in the way, but Yale will have a good opportunity to better its No. 4 seeding and perhaps claim a national title.
The first obstacle for the Bulldogs will come Friday as they face off against No. 5 Princeton (9-4, 4-3 Ivy). The Tigers were ranked higher than the Bulldogs most of the season, but the two teams swapped places after Yale's 5-4 upset win over the tournament hosts on Feb. 2. The previous win will give the Bulldogs confidence heading into a contest that promises to be a battle between two closely matched opponents.
A Bulldog victory on Friday would most likely set up a rematch against No. 1 Harvard on Saturday. In the teams' regular season showdown, Yale was handed a 7-2 defeat by a talented Crimson squad.
This Howe Cup will be the last for a senior class still looking to replicate the success of its freshman campaign, in which Yale went undefeated en route to a national championship.
The Bulldogs will look for leadership from seniors Millie Tomlinson, Kim Hay, Gwen Tilghman and captain Lilly Fast. Tomlinson and Hay occupy the top two spots in the lineup, while Tilghman and Fast will anchor the middle portion.
Throughout the regular season the Bulldogs have also found strength in the team's younger players. Juniors Shihui Mao and Issey Norman-Ross have held down the third and fourth positions all year long. Freshmen Jenny Scherl and Shiyuan Mao have also been bright spots for the Bulldogs, both compiling 10-0 records during the regular season. Yale's depth should prove a significant asset in tournament play.
Talbott believes that the Bulldogs have the talent to go all the way, but Yale must first focus on its tough opening matchup.
"This challenge in the first round will set the tone for the weekend. If [the team] can get through the first round, they will show that they are ready to win the 2014 National Championship."
Report by Evan Brown '16, Yale Sports Publicity