Squash teams go 2-1 in New Haven

by Emily Wechsler | 1/21/15 6:06pm

The No. 10 women’s squash team notched two upsets in a successful trip to New Haven, Connecticut this past weekend. At Yale University’s Brady Squash Courts, the Big Green (3-4, 0-3) beat No. 7 Stanford University 7-2 on Saturday and No. 8 George Washington University 5-4 on Sunday. The No. 8 men’s team, also in New Haven, lost 7-2 to the No. 4 University of Rochester.

The women’s squash team overcame unfavorable history with the Stanford team, which it had not beaten since 2006.

“We knew they were very good, [but] we knew we’d have a chance like always,” men’s and women’s head coach Hansi Wiens said. “Our team performed very, very well, especially our freshman and seniors [who] pushed through and did really well under pressure.”

The impressive win over Stanford was followed closely by another upset against George Washington, albeit a harder fought one. The first round of matches featured a four-game victory for Lydie McKenzie ’16 and two five-game losses from Madeline Fraser ’17 and Oona Morris ’15. Fraser, who clinched the win against Stanford with a 3-0 victory, was chosen as a Northeast Credit Union Athlete of the Week for her play in New Haven.

The second and third rounds saw George Washington and Dartmouth trade blow for blow. Co-captain Sarah Caughey ’15 and Rebecca Brownell ’18 secured two three-game wins in the second round of games, which ended with the teams tied 3-3. Another win for each team left the score tied at 4-4, and all eyes turned toward co-captain Helena Darling ’15, who was tied with George Washington’s Eunice Tan, both women at one game each.

During the third game, Tan went down to the court after a drop shot from Darling, and was forced to retire from the match due to injury, giving the Big Green the win.

“We’re very, very happy about this weekend,” Wiens said. “We can be in the top eight, and the top eight go in four weeks and play for the national championship in Boston.”

The team seemed to play more confidently this weekend, Wiens said. Having faced some hard loses earlier this season, the team has remained remarkably mentally tough, and spirits were high at practice on Tuesday. The team’s training atmosphere and dynamic have been very strong.

“This is the highest we’ve been ranked since I’ve been here,” Caughey said. “My first couple of years here we were [ranked] eight, but we got crushed by one through seven and then crushed anyone below us. It’s been really fun this season to actually have close matches.”

The women were prepared for a down season after four of its top five players graduated last year. However, there has been no visible slack, and the freshmen have made valuable contributions to the team’s play, Caughey said.

The men’s team (2-5, 0-3) saw its lineup shift this weekend as four top-nine players were unable to travel. Yet in a demonstration of the depth of Dartmouth squash talent, the team’s two wins came from Bayard Kuensell ’15 in the eighth spot and George Henderson ’17 in the ninth, players who otherwise might not have travelled.

“[Dartmouth has] one of the deepest teams out there,” Kuensell said. “We know that we have 14 players who can step up at any time.”

Rochester looked to be stout competition for the Big Green even before illness and injury struck several players.

“Everyone had to play to the best of their ability for us to even have a chance,” Kuensell said.

Despite only winning two matches, Wiens did not look negatively on the men’s weekend, pointing out that James Fisch ’16 and Glen Brickman ’17 forced fifth games in their matches, despite ultimately losing.

The team won’t be making big changes in these last four weeks of practice and competition. The men have solid fitness, and they’ll focus on polishing their mental game, thinking about taking opportunities to “shoot,” or attack from bad positions, Wiens said.

Both men’s and women’s squash start four-game home stands this Sunday, beginning by taking on Bates College at the John Berry Sports Center.