Feb. 16, 2007
New Haven, CT - While it may have taken what Head Coach Dave Talbott called "divine intervention," the No. 5 Bulldogs edged out the No. 4 Bantams 5-4 Friday in the quarterfinals of the Howe Cup. Yale will play Princeton Saturday at 2 p.m. in the semifinals.
The match may have ended in an anticlimactic manner as senior Catherine McLeod easily secured the 5-4 victory for Yale with a 3-0 win over Trinity's Vaidehy Reddy at No. 1. But what happened before this final match was magical. Down 8-0 in the fifth game of her match, sophomore Jessica Balderston battled back to win the final game 10-8 to win the match 3-2 at No. 8. Facing over 10 match points, Balderston kept pushing and came up with amazing shot after amazing shot to cap the remarkable comeback.
Balderston attributed the hard fought victory to her attitude and mind set.
"I feel like when you're down at any point, you have to keep pushing and sometimes an opponent will let you win," Balderston said. "You cannot let go for a second. You can't let up at all. I'm happy I could pull it out for the team. If I lost, people would be really disappointed. But as it turned out, my match was the deciding one."
In addition to Balderston's triumph, senior Lauren McCrery came up with a huge victory for Yale at No. 3 against JoAnn Jee. McCrery defeated her opponent 3-1 after cruising to a 9-0 victory in the fourth game.
The key to victory against Trinity Friday was pulling out close matches, McCrery said.
"I've had a lot of close matches I've lost," McCrery said. "Last time against Trinity I lost in five. Everyone stepped it up a notch. The whole team is pumped. Today could have gone either way."
Junior Miranda Ranieri and sophomore Tara Wadhwa also pulled out 3-1 victories for the Bulldogs. After dropping her first game 9-7, Ranieri won her next three games 9-5, 9-5, 9-4 at No. 2. Wadhwa also dropped her first game 9-5, but she battled back to win the next three games 9-4, 9-1, 10-8 at No. 9.
Talbott said a combination of great play and luck played a decisive role in Yale's victory Friday.
"We had some luck involved," Talbott said. "Our No. 8 had 10 match balls against her. This is the fifth straight 5-4 match with Trinity. We deserved a couple of breaks. Great play at No. 3. Lauren played her best match of the year. Miranda and Catherine are two of the best players in the league. We gave it to Catherine at 4-4, and we were confident she could win."
Despite the exhaustion of a draining long five game match, Balderston said she is confident going into the match Saturday.
"I'm coming off of two great victories," Balderston said, referring to the victory Friday and her five game victory against Princeton February 3. "Obviously a match like this is very tiring. I'm very exhausted. I'm nervous, but I think confidence in winning is half the battle. Squash is one of the most mental games I've ever played if not the most mental game. It's about getting into the other person's head."
McCrery said Yale is looking to avenge their 6-3 loss to No. 1 Princeton earlier this month.
"This was a huge boost of confidence," McCrery said. "I lost to Princeton last time. We're looking to turn it around. We are confident we can beat them."
The Bulldogs are focused on the Princeton match now, Talbott said.
"We just want a shot at Princeton again," he said. "It's a very important match for us. We have to feel good. We're confident going into that."
1. Catherine McLeod (Y) def. Vaidehy Reddy (T), 3-0 (9-7, 9-6, 9-6)
2. Miranda Ranieri (Y) def. Lauren Polonich (T), 3-1 (7-9, 9-5, 9-5, 9-4)
3. Lauren McCrery (Y) def. JoAnn Jee (T), 3-1 (9-5, 9-7, 7-9, 9-0)
4. Tehani Guruge (T) def. Alia Aziz (Y), 3-0 (9-7, 9-5, 9-6)
5. Ashley Clackson (T) def. Kate Rapisarda (Y), 3-0 (9-5, 9-1, 9-5)
6. Fernanda Rocha (T) def. Nicola Shiels (Y), 3-0 (9-0, 9-1, 9-4)
7. Siobhan Knight (T) def. Sarah Barenbaum (Y), 3-0 (9-4, 9-2, 9-5)
8. Jessica Balderston (Y) def. Emily Paton (T), 3-2 (7-9, 9-7, 9-3, 6-9, 10-8)
9. Tara Wadhwa (Y) def. Hadley Schroll (T), 3-1 (5-9, 9-4, 9-1, 10-8)
Report filed by Steven Horn '10, Yale Sports Publicity