February 26, 2006

THREE-PEAT

Feb. 26, 2006

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The relentless women's squash team won its third straight national title today, coming back from a 4-2 deficit to defeat Trinity 5-4 in the finals of the Howe Cup in Cambridge, Mass. Captain Amy Gross clinched the match for Yale with her four-game win over Ashley Clackson.

"This title means everything," said two-time defending CSA champion Michelle Quibell. "Wednesday was very rough on us, and we wanted to show everyone that we are the best team. We knew Trinity would be tough, but we figured playing our game would be enough."

It was. At No. 4, Gross got by Clackson 9-4, 5-9, 9-3, 9-2 to clinch the title for Yale. At 8-2 in the deciding game, the players actually lost the ball momentarily. With her opponent extremely tired, some felt that the momentum would change when play resumed, but Gross won the first point after the restart to kick off the celebration.

"This was the perfect way to end the year," Gross said. "It is amazing that it came down to Michelle and me. This was an amazing way to end a great four-year collegiate career and I'm very proud of everyone on the team. We all had each other's backs today."

Even when they had those backs to the wall, Head Coach Dave Talbott remained confident in his players.

"When we were down 4-2, I felt like we could squeeze back in it with Amy [Gross] and Michelle [Quibell] coming up," he said. "We played really well on Saturday against Harvard and went in today strong, but Catherine McLeod lost her first match [of the year]."

Indeed, No. 3 McLeod lost an extremely close match to Lauren Polonich. Polonich was just able to squeak by, winning by a score of 8-10, 10-8, 10-8, 9-5.

True to Talbott's prediction, though, No. 1 Quibell was able to help rally the Bulldogs, defeating Vaidehi Reddy 9-5, 9-5, 4-9, 9-5. No. 2 Miranda Ranieri also won in four games, downing Larissa Stephenson, 9-2, 4-9, 9-4, 9-6.

At No. 6, Kate Rapisarda narrowly defeated Anna Detter, 10-8, 10-8, 10-9. Nicola Shiels rounded out the Bulldogs' wins at No. 8, beating Siobhan Knight, 9-3, 9-4, 9-4.

The win gives Yale its third straight national title and sixth overall. Though team competition is over for the season, the Bulldogs will be back in action next weekend in Amherst, Mass., when they compete in the CSA individual championships. Quibell will attempt to win her third straight national individual title.

Results:
No. 1 Michelle Quibell (Y) def. Vaidehi Reddy (T), 3-1 (9-5, 9-5, 4-9, 9-5)
No. 2 Miranda Ranieri (Y) def. Larissa Stephenson (T), 3-1 (9-2, 4-9, 9-4, 9-6)
No. 3 Lauren Polonich (T) def. Catherine McLeod (Y), 3-1 (8-10, 10-8, 10-8, 9-5)
No. 4 Amy Gross (Y) def. Ashley Clackson (T), 3-1 (9-4, 5-9, 9-3, 9-2)
No. 5 Isa Restrepo (T) def. Lauren McCrery (Y), 3-0 (9-1, 9-7, 10-8)
No. 6 Kate Rapisarda (Y) def. Anna Detter (T), 3-0 (10-8, 10-8, 10-9)
No. 7 Fernanda Rocha (T) def. Sarah Barenbaum (Y), 3-0 (9-3, 9-2, 9-2)
No. 8 Nicola Shiels (Y) def. Siobhan Knight (T), 3-0 (9-3, 9-4, 9-4)
No. 9 Margot Kearney (T) def. Jessica Balderston (Y), 3-0 (9-7, 9-4, 9-2)

Report filed by David Sherfinski '08, Yale Sports Publicity