Top-Ranked Women's Squash Set to Defend National Title

Top-Ranked Women's Squash Set to Defend National Title
Dowling and the Crimson will look it wins its third consecutive Howe Cup Championships this weekend (Photo Courtsey: Zack Williamson). 

The top-ranked Harvard women's squash team will head to Princeton, N.J., to defend its national title at the 2014 College Squash Association Women's Championships at the Jadwin Squash Courts at Princeton University Feb. 21-23. Harvard will open the three-day event with No. 8 Dartmouth Friday, Feb. 21 at 12:15 p.m.

Watch It Live
The Ivy League Digital Network will stream the top six matches each day at Jadwin Gym. Subscribers to the network can watch matches both live and on-demand at their convenience, and will have access to live and on-demand content for all home Harvard athletics events throughout the duration of their subscription.

Seeding The Field
The seeding for the championship is determined by the most recent edition of the CSA rankings, which has the Crimson sitting at the top of the list followed by No. 2 Trinity, No. 3 Penn, No. 4 Yale, No. 5 Princeton, No. 6 Cornell, No. 7 Stanford and No. 8 Dartmouth to round out the teams competing for the Howe Cup.

Ivy League Champions
Harvard clinched the program's 19th Ivy League title Feb. 9, defeating Brown, 9-0, at the Murr Center. In the final regular season match, the Crimson swept eight of its nine matches to conclude its regular season.
Related Link: Top-Ranked Women's Squash Claims Ivy Title Outright with 9-0 Win Over Brown

About No. 1 Harvard
Harvard finished its regular season with an undefeated record of 12-0 marking just the 13th time Harvard has posted an unblemished season in program history. Dileas MacGowan is the team leader with 12 wins as the rookie remains undefeated in her first year in Cambridge. Megan Murray is 10-2 while Michelle Gemmell owns a 9-1 record and Isabelle Dowling is 9-2 overall. Amanda Sobhy has an unblemished 9-0 mark in the top position, while Haley Mendez is 9-1 and Katie Tutrone is 8-2. Harvard is 102-14 individually for an .879 win percentage.

Harvard has faced six of the other seven teams in the tournament field, posting a solid 6-0 against teams ranked in the top eight in the country.  Harvard downed Trinity (5-4), Penn (6-3). Yale (7-2), Princeton (6-3), Cornell (8-1) and Dartmouth (9-0).

The Crimson has not seen No. 7 Stanford on the court since the first round of the CSA Team Championships last season when Harvard shutout the Cardinals, 9-0.

2012-13 Howe Cup
The Crimson claimed its 14th national championship, one season ago as Harvard outlasted No. 4 Trinity, 5-4. Harvard jumped out to an early 4-0 lead before Amanda Sobhy made quick work of her opponent, winning 11-8, 11-7, 11-8, to earn the pivotal fifth point and clinch the title. 
Related Link: Women's Squash Claims 14th Howe Cup with 5-4 Win over Trinity

National Champions
After winning last year's national title, Harvard has now won 14 in its storied existence, the second most all-time, trailing only this year's No. 5 Princeton.

Previous Women's Squash National Champions
Princeton – 17 (Last: 2009)
Harvard – 14 (2013)
Yale – 7 (2011)
Trinity – 2 (2003)
Penn – 1 (2000)

Win Streak
The Crimson is currently riding a 20-game win streak dating back to a close, 5-4 defeat at Princeton Jan. 13. The current win streak sits fifth in program history. Harvard's longest win streak stretched from 1991-98 where the Crimson claimed 70 straight victories.

Coach's View
Assistant coach Luke Hammond is now blogging to give fans an inside perspective of the Harvard men's and women's squash teams. The blog will be periodically updated throughout the season, recapping the latest results and highlighting other interesting tidbits about the squad.
Related Link: Harvard Squash Blog               

Scouting No. 8 Dartmouth
As the eighth-ranked team in the country, Dartmouth concluded its regular season with a 5-7 record and a 2-5 mark in Ivy action.  The Big Green went 3-2 in its last five contests, edging Columbia (5-4) and Brown (6-3) while falling to Yale (9-0) and Cornell (7-2) before concluding its regular season with a shutout victory of Williams. The Big Green is led by Jacqueline Barnes, Nina Scott, Melina Turk and Katherine Nimmo.

Series History with the Big Green
As its third-most frequent opponent, the Crimson has seen plenty of the Big Green through the years.  The two programs first faced off during the 1974-75 season when Harvard dropped a, 7-2, decision.  Since then, the Crimson has captured 43 of its 51 meetings to claim a 43-3 edge in the all-time series. Harvard has swept Dartmouth the last two meetings.

Looking Ahead
With team play finished, the Crimson will play individually at the CSA Individual Championships Feb. 28-March 2 in Philadelphia, Pa.