Squash squashed in season finales against Penn, Princeton

by Cecily Kaya | 2/13/07 6:00am

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The Big Green fell to some tough competition against Penn and Princeton in their final regular season matches.
by Tilman Dette / The Dartmouth

Princeton and Penn came into the match up with the Big Green men (11-6, 2-4 Ivy) and women (10-5, 2-4 Ivy) highly ranked in the Ivy League standings. The Tigers, ranked at No. 1 in the men's league (8-0, 6-0 Ivy) and No. 1 in the women's division (8-0, 6-0 Ivy), proved to be the stronger team with a greater range of talent in their lineup. Penn, ranked No. 3 for the men (8-3, 4-2 Ivy) and No. 2 for the women (8-1, 5-1 Ivy), was equally authoritative and did not let a single match go.

Both Princeton teams captured the Ivy League title on Sunday with wins over Harvard in Princeton. It was the 12th title for the men and the fourth league championship for the women.

On the men's side, the Big Green was already at a disadvantage with their No. 1 player Todd Wood '07 sidelined back in Hanover with injuries he suffered in the Brown match last weekend.

"We all would have been playing a position lower had he been there, and Penn would have been a really close game if this were the case," Adam King '08 said. "We hope he's healthy by nationals in two weeks, which is when we really need him."

Dartmouth was swept by Princeton in every match-up on Saturday. The Tigers have a lineup of highly-ranked players from overseas as well as from North America.

The tightest match came at the No. 4 spot between Michael Shrubb '10 and Princeton senior Vincent Yu. Shrubb was able to extend some of the games, but in the end Yu prevailed 9-3, 9-5, 9-3.

Against Penn, the Big Green held its own and put up a better showing, but the result was ultimately the same from the previous day.

Ted Newhouse '09 and Tyler Young '09 took their opponents to four games, notching the only game wins for the men against Penn. Newhouse fell to Ben Ende at the No. 3 spot 9-3, 4-9, 9-7, 9-2, while Young lost to Graham Bassett at No. 5 by a score of 3-9, 9-, 9-5, 9-7.

Co-captain James Crandell '07 accepted the results gracefully.

"We knew going into the weekend that we were facing some of the toughest competition of the year with Princeton ranked No. 2 nationally and Penn No. 4. In the end, no amount of courage or hard work could really overcome that. They were just too talented."

For the women, though the losses were hard to accept as their last games of the season, the Big Green women feel that they put out their best effort against the Ivy powerhouses.

"They had a lot of depth on their team," co-captain Avery Eyre '07 said of Princeton's women's team. "Someone that was playing at No. 5 last year played at No. 9 this year -- it just goes to show how strong their recruiting class was."

Ashley Malenchak '08 played at the No. 1 spot and dropped her match against the Tigers in three games, 9-1, 9-5, 9-5, against Claire Rein-Weston, a former member of the U.S. junior national squash team. The competition did not lessen across the Princeton lineup, as the other Big Green athletes followed with similarly short matches.

The exception for Dartmouth was Libbey Brown '10, who stole a game from junior Carly Grabowski at the No. 8 spot.

Brown took the first game from Grabowski at a close 9-7, but eventually the freshman gave in to the Princeton junior in fourth game for a final score of 7-9, 9-2, 9-2, 9-1.

At Penn, the Big Green women were equally outmatched. The Quakers took each match in three games.

Christie Alexander '08 played at No. 2 and nearly came back for a win in the second game, but fell short by two points in a losing effort of 9-2, 9-7, 9-0.

Becca Loucks '08, Madeline Lurio '09 and Emilie Mackey '07 put up great efforts to try to put a stop to Penn's winning streak in the match, but in the end the scores reflected the stronger team.

"They were just a higher level of competition," Heather Lisle '07 said. "These teams were definitely the stiffest competition we've faced. But I'm proud of the fact that we fought -- it's easy to let a big team like this intimidate you into giving up, and I'm happy with the way we handled it."

Though the Dartmouth squash teams did not add to their win totals this weekend, they will each have another chance to claim victory in the upcoming women's Howe Cup and the men's CSA National Tournament in the weeks ahead.

"Overall the season had been an unqualified success," Crandell said. "I think our first goal was to get a spot in the top eight bracket of the CSA playoffs, which we did at No. 8. Both the men and women will train accordingly for the next two weeks and look toward the tournaments."

The women will play for the Howe Cup at Yale on Friday, Feb. 16, to Sunday, Feb. 18, in New Haven, Conn., while the men will recover and prepare for their competition in two weeks on Friday, Feb. 23, to Sunday, Feb. 25, in New Haven. Times are to be announced.

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