Captain Lilly Fast Overcomes 2-0 Deficit in Deciding Match
PRINCETON, N.J. — No. 4 Yale came roaring back from a 4-2 deficit to earn a 5-4 comeback win against the No. 5 Princeton Tigers in the first round of the Howe Cup national championships in Princeton, N.J. on Friday. Despite spending most of the contest one or two matches behind the leading Tigers, the Bulldogs fought hard all day to pull themselves even with their Ivy League rivals. With Yale and Princeton in a 4-4 deadlock, Yale captain Lilly Fast found herself two games down in the last match of the day. Overcoming the odds, Fast battled her way to victory, reeling off three straight wins to keep Yale's season alive.
Princeton had hoped to lean on its home-field advantage, and most of the early action did favor the hosts. The Tigers took two of the first three matches, defeating Yale junior Shihui Mao at No. 3 and senior Gwen Tilghman at No. 6. However, sophomore Annie Ballaine maintained her undefeated record with five-game win over Princeton's Tara Harrington in the ninth spot (6-11,12-14,11-9,11-7,11-7).
At No. 5, freshman Jenny Scherl dropped a close contest, putting the Bulldogs down 3-1, but her fellow freshman Shiyuan Mao notched a win at No. 8 to bring Yale back within one.
More drama came in the No. 2 match, which featured Yale senior Kim Hay and Princeton senior Libby Eyre. During the match, Hay was forced to take a 30-minute injury timeout after Eyre collided with her. Hay tried to play on through the pain, but ultimately lost in five games (11-7,11-5,7-11,6-11,11-9). This put Princeton one win away from ending Yale's season, with the Bulldogs needing to win all three matches in the final phase of play to survive.
After junior Issey Norman-Ross prevailed in another tight match at No. 4, senior Millie Tomlinson won the top spot in three games to tie the contest at 4-4.
This left the match in the balance between two senior captains: Fast and Princeton's Alex Sawin. After close losses in the first two games, the outlook was grim for Fast, who had put forth gritty efforts in several tough losses in the regular season. This time, however, Fast's determination paid off in a big way, as the captain willed herself to three consecutive wins to earn the decisive 3-2 victory (10-12,8-11,11-9,11-6,11-7) and give Yale the 5-4 win.
"Lilly has been a great captain," said Coach David Talbott. "She came through in the biggest match of the year to get the win."
After staring elimination in the face today, the Bulldogs will have little time to rest before facing their next challenge: a semifinal matchup with No. 1 Harvard. In the first round, the Crimson cruised past No. 8 Dartmouth 9-0. While Yale lost 7-2 against Harvard in the regular season, the Bulldogs have shown they can play with any team in the country and will hope to build on the momentum from their big first-round win.
Saturday's match will begin at 2 p.m. at the Jadwin Squash Courts in Princeton, N.J.
Report by Evan Brown '16, Yale Sports Publicity
|Princeton University||Rating||Yale University||Rating||Winner's Score||Winner||Status|
|1WS||Ubina,Maria Elena||0.000||Tomlinson,Millie||0.000||11-8,11-7,11-2||Yale University||C|
|3WS||Bunyan,Nicole S.||0.000||Mao,Shihui||0.000||11-8,11-9,11-5||Princeton University||C|
|5WS||Lunt,Alexandra K.||0.000||Scherl,Jenny||0.000||11-7,11-9,3-11,11-9||Princeton University||C|
|6WS||Dewey,Hallie||0.000||Tilghman,Gwendoline C||0.000||11-7,11-5,11-3||Princeton University||C|
|7WS||Sawin,Alexandra R||0.000||Fast,Lillian A.||0.000||10-12,8-11,11-9,11-6,11-7||Yale University||C|
|8WS||Toth,Alexandra M.||0.000||Mao,Shiyuan||0.000||11-5,11-5,11-9||Yale University||C|
|9WS||Harrington,Tara||0.000||Ballaine,Annie Y||0.000||6-11,12-14,11-9,11-7,11-7||Yale University||C|
|10WS||Saunders,Alexis A.||0.000||Blatchford,Georgia A.||0.000||11-3,11-6,11-8||Princeton University||C|