No. 1 Women's Squash Entertains No. 8 Dartmouth in Ancient 8, Home Opener Wednesday

No. 1 Women's Squash Entertains No. 8 Dartmouth in Ancient 8, Home Opener Wednesday

Megan Murray is 1-0 this season following her 3-0 win against Boston College (Photo courtesy: Gil Talbot). 

Scene Setter
The No. 1 Harvard women's squash team kicks off Ivy League play against No. 8 Dartmouth Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Last Time Out
Harvard extended its win streak to 18 consecutive matches with a 9-0 victory over Boston College in the MIT Round Robin Tournament. Freshman Saumya Karki made her collegiate debut and topped Lily Havens at the No. 1 position, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7. Classmates Isabelle Dowling and Allie Sperry both made their debuts, as well, and earned 3-0 wins.

Unbeaten Beginnings
Harvard has come out on the winning side in its season opener in all 38 years of its existence. Harvard blanked Boston College, 9-0, in this year's opener. The women also did not lose a game in the opener, sweeping all nine matches, 3-0. The women have also gone 2-0 in 35 straight seasons after dropping its second match of the season to Wellsley, 4-3, in 1973-74, which is the only time in the program's 37 previous years that the team has not gone 2-0 to start the season.

Happy Returns
Despite losing two All-Americans in Cece Cortes and Nirasha Guruge to graduation, the Crimson still returns three All-Americans from last year's team. Sophomore and defending national champion Amanda Sobhy is back for her second campaign after posting a 15-0 record last season. She is joined by 2010 national champion 
Laura Gemmell, who has been a first team All-America selection each of her three years in Cambridge, and team co-MVP and second team All-American Haley Mendez. Overall, the Crimson returns seven of its top nine for 2012-13.

New Kids on the Block
Four freshman will join the Crimson in its attempt to repeat this year. 
Saumya Karki, Michelle Gemmell, Isabelle Dowling and Allie Sperry are all expected to make an immediate impact for Harvard. Karki and Gemmell are projected to play in the top six this season, while Dowling will compete for a spot in the lower third of the lineup. Sperry was a late addition to the squad, walking on just prior to the beginning of the season to pick up a win at BC.

Related Article: Three Newcomers Added to Women's Squash for 2012-13

Family Ties
Senior Laura Gemmell is joined on the squad this year by her younger sister, Michelle. Isabelle Dowling is the third member of her family to play squash at Harvard, as her mother, Diana Edge '88, and father, Joseph Dowling '87, both suited up for the Crimson. Senior co-captain 
Sarah Mumanachit's older sister, Sandra '10, was also a four-year member of the squad.

Still the One
In the CSA preseason rankings, the Crimson was selected as the favorite to repeat as national champions. Harvard is followed by archrival Yale and Trinity in the preseason projection, the teams it defeated in the finals and semifinals at last year's CSA Team Championships.

Related Articles: CSA Tabs Women's Squash as Preseason Number One

The Captains
Natasha Kingshott and Sarah Mumanachit were both elected team captains prior to the start of the season. Kingshott posted a 13-4 mark last season, playing in the three through six spots in the lineup, while Mumanachit went 15-2 primarily out of the seven hole.

Leading the Way
Mike Way, The Gregory Lee '87 and Russell Ball '88 Endowed Coach for Squash at Harvard University, returns for his third season. In just over two years in Cambridge, his women's teams have gone a combined 29-2, including last year's 17-0 mark. Assistants Reg Schonborn and Luke Hammond return for the 2012-13 season.

Last Season
Harvard concluded a perfect 2011-12 season in impressive fashion, defeating No. 2 Yale, 8-1, in the College Squash Association Championship match to end the year with a 17-0 mark and capture the program's 13th national title. The Crimson swept six of the nine matches after narrowly beating the Bulldogs, 5-4, to claim the Ivy title earlier in the year.

About Dartmouth
The Big Green returns eight of nine players from last year's ladder, including its top seven players. First team All-Ivy selection Corey Schafer leads the way for Dartmouth, which went 6-9 last year. The Big Green has not yet competed in a match this season but did partake in the Ivy Scrimmages. The women went 1-2, falling to Princeton, 9-0, and Cornell, 8-1, and beating Brown, 9-0. In the all-time series, Harvard holds a 41-3 advantage and is currently on a five-game win streak dating back to 2008.

Up Next
Harvard continues its three-game homestand against Williams Dec. 5 at 6 p.m.