Natasha Kingshott is one of seven undefeated Crimson this season (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The No. 1-ranked and undefeated Harvard women's squash team begins Ivy League play this weekend by hosting No. 3 Penn and No. 4 Princeton. The Crimson will open with Penn Saturday at 1 p.m., before taking on Princeton Sunday at 2 p.m. in the team's first action in over a month.
No. 1 Harvard
The Crimson is 7-0 overall and 1-0 in the Ivy League and has held the top spot in the Collegiate Squash Assocation (CSA) poll in each of the first three installments this season. Harvard has blanked five of its first seven opponents by 9-0 tallies this season and each of its last four. The Crimson is at least 7-0 for the fourth consecutive season and has not lost a match before the turn of the New Year since the 1976-77 season. Harvard is led by All-Americans Laura Gemmell (3-0) and Nirasha Guruge (5-0), who has each gone 3-0 in the No. 1 position this year. Freshman Haley Mendez leads the team in wins with seven without losing a match, including a win at the No. 1 position, four at No. 2 and two at No. 3. Crimson student-athletes have combined to go 59-6 (.907) in individual matches in 2011-12.
Last Time Out
Harvard has not competed since Dec. 3, when the squad won three matches by 9-0 finals. The Crimson breezed past Amherst at the Murr Center, before traveling to MIT to down Wellesley and Boston College during the busy day. Seven Crimson players extended their undefeated seasons during the day, including Guruge, Gemmell, Mendez, Natasha Kingshott, Sarah Mumanachit, Julianne Chu, and Eliza Calihan.
Student Rewards Game
The match on Sunday is part of the Harvard Student Rewards program. Harvard students in attendance can swipe in to earn $1 of Crimson Cash and entry into the winter grand prize drawing for an iPad 2.
No. 3 Penn
Penn went 2-0 during the 2011 portion of the 2011-12 season with wins over No. 9 Williams and then-No. 3 Princeton. The Quakers, which opened the year at No. 5 in the CSA preseason poll, defeated Princeton, 6-3, to move up two spots in the rankings. Penn returned eight letterwinners from the 2010-11 team that finished 10-4 overall and in third place of the Ivy League with a 4-2 mark. The Quakers are led by junior Rachel Goh, who was ranked No. 10 in the CSA individual rankings at the end of 2010-11 and was named a first-team All-American.
Harvard has won the last five meetings between the two teams and leads the all-time series with Penn, 35-6.
No. 4 Princeton
The Tigers have won four matches by 9-0 scores, but dropped its only Ivy League match thus far in 2011-12 when Penn upset Princeton, 6-3, Dec. 3. Princeton is led by two-time All-American Julie Cerullo, who won the consolation finals at last year's CSA Individual Championships and finished at No. 3 in the CSA individual rankings. Cerullo is undefeated (6-0) in the No. 1 position this season.
Harvard has defeated Princeton in the teams' last two meetings and leads the all-time series, 27-20.
The Crimson continues its run of matches against top-five squads Jan. 21 at No. 5 Trinity. Harvard will resume its Ivy League slate at Columbia Feb. 3.