CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The top-ranked Harvard women's squash team captured the 13th national title in program history, as the Crimson won the College Squash Association national women's team championship by defeating No. 2 Yale, 8-1, at the Murr Center Sunday.
The Crimson, which has won two of the last three CSA national titles, completed its season with a perfect 17-0 record, as Harvard also claimed the Ivy League title and Barhite Award, given to team with the best dual-match record, along the way this year. Harvard's national championship is the first for the women's program under Mike Way, the Gregory Lee '87 and Russell Ball '88 Endowed Coach for Squash at Harvard University.
The Crimson took an early lead over Yale, as two of the first three matches played went Harvard's way. Co-captain Nirasha Gurge gave Harvard a 1-0 lead with one of the quickest matches of the day and Natasha Kingshott won 3-0 after an extended second game.
Guruge swept Rhetta Nadas, 3-0 (11-5, 11-2, 11-9), at No. 3 and Kinghsott beat Gwendoline Tilghman, 3-0 (11-9, 19-17, 11-6) in the No. 6 position. Kingshott's 19-point second game was the longest by any Crimson player this season.
The Bulldog's Issey Norman-Ross finished Megan Murray, 3-0 (11-7, 11-5, 11-9) to make the score 2-1 heading into the second group of matchups.
In the No. 2 spot, Laura Gemmell made quick work of Kimberley Hay, 3-0 (11-9, 11-9, 15-13) and Julianne Chu topped Lillian Fast, 3-1 (11-5, 11-9, 5-11, 11-6), at No. 8.
Just before Chu finished off her match with Fast, Harvard co-captain Cece Cortes stepped on to the court with a 2-1 lead over Katherine Ballaine. Once Chu's match was over, the Crimson faithful turned their attention to Cortes, as Harvard led 4-1 in the match, just one point away from securing the national title.
Cortes started the fourth game with a flurry of winners, taking an 8-0 lead before Ballaine got on the board. By that time, the Harvard team had gathered around the court, waiting for Cortes to finish the Bulldogs. The Crimson's senior won the next three points to take the game, 11-1, the match, 3-1, and the Howe Cup for Harvard.
With the title guaranteed, Harvard stayed sharp, winning its next three matches by 3-0 finals to finish with an impressive 8-1 win over No. 2 Yale. Amanda Sobhy handled Camilla Tomlinson, 3-0 (11-1, 11-3, 11-1) at No. 1, Haley Mendez put away Alexandra Van Arkel, 3-0 (11-8, 11-9, 11-4), in the No. 4 spot and Sarah Mumanachit swept Shihui Mao, 3-0 (11-6, 11-3, 11-7) in the No. 7 position.
Harvard went 3-0 on the weekend at the CSA tournament, also defeating No. 8 Dartmouth, 9-0, and No. 5 Trinity, 9-0, as the Crimson went 26-1 in its matches over the three days.
No. 1 Amanda Sobhy (H) def. Camilla Tomlinson (Y), 3-0: 11-1, 11-3, 11-1
No. 2 Laura Gemmell (H) def. Kimberley Hay (Y), 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 15-13
No. 3 Nirasha Guruge (H) def. Rhetta Nadas (Y), 3-0: 11-5, 11-2, 11-9
No. 4 Haley Mendez (H) def. Alexandra Van Arkel (Y), 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-4
No. 5 Cece Cortes (H) def. Katherine Ballaine (Y), 3-1: 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-1
No. 6 Natasha Kingshott (H) def. Gwendoline Tilghman (Y), 3-0: 11-9, 19-17, 11-6
No. 7 Sarah Mumanachit (H) def. Shihui Mao (Y), 3-0: 11-6, 11-3, 11-7
No. 8 Julianne Chu (H) def. Lillian Fast (Y), 3-1: 11-5, 11-9, 5-11, 11-6
No. 9 Issey Norman-Ross (Y) def. Megan Murray (H), 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-9