Trinity Upsets Women's Squash In Tough Howe Cup Semifinal 6-3
Princeton will return to the court Sunday afternoon to play for third place against Penn, who the Tigers defeated 9-0 in a closer-than-the-score-shows matchup earlier this season.
During that championship effort, Princeton kept finding ways to pull out the key close matches. Unfortunately, Trinity was the team that accomplished that just a bit better Saturday afternoon, and it started during the opening shift.
The Bantams, who didn't play Princeton during the regular season because of last weekend's winter storm, jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the first shift with wins at No. 3 and No. 6. Princeton sophomore Nicole Bunyan lost three close games in a 3-1 loss to Wee Nee Low at the No. 3 spot, while junior Lexi Saunders lost a five-game marathon. Saunders used a 12-10 win in the third to grab a 2-1 lead over Natalie Babjukova, but her Trinity opponent battled back with wins of 11-8 and 12-10 to claim a momentum-shifting win.
Princeton relied on its consistent sophomore, Hallie Dewey, to get the Tigers on the board at the No. 9 spot. After splitting the first two games, Dewey took control with wins of 11-6 and 11-5 to give the Tigers their first match.
Princeton showed its championship spirit in the second, winning twice to even the team score. Freshman Tara Harrington evened the match at 2-2 with a 3-0 win over Jennifer Pelletier at the No. 8 position; the Princeton freshman continued her strong performance in key matches by never giving up a game, including a pair of 11-9 wins.
Trinity moved back up 3-2 when Robyn Hodgson battled back from a 1-0 deficit to top Alex Lunt 3-1 at the fifth spot. Three of the four games, including the final one, were decided by two points, but Hodgson finished the match with an 11-9 victory.
Princeton junior Libby Eyre pulled off the match of the day in a showdown of 2012 All-Americas. Eyre topped former Trinity No. 1 Catalina Pelaez in five tense games, including an 11-9 win in the fifth. Eyre won the odd games, so she never let Pelaez get out in front, and Princeton was back even at 3-3.
The final shift would belong to Trinity, though. Sachika Balvani won three tight games over Alex Sawin at the No. 7 spot to move the Bantams within a match of the final, and Trinity freshman Kanzy El Defrawy finished the job with a 3-0 win over Julie Cerullo at the top spot. El Defrawy, arguably the top freshman in the country, had to fight Cerullo off in a tough second game, but she controlled the final game to clinch the win.
Trinity finished the match with a 3-2 win at the fourth spot, as Ashley Tidman rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Rachel Leizman at the fourth spot.
"It was a tough day for us," head coach Gail Ramsay said. "Trinity is a strong team and they played well. As I take it all in I am truly proud of the way my team has worked together this season. They worked hard for me and for each other, they faced each opponent with a determined attitude and respect. They have exceeded all my expectations this season.
"I am looking forward to tomorrow," Ramsay added. "It will be yet another huge challenge but I know they will be back out there determined to play some great squash."
Trinity 6, Princeton 3
1) Kanzy El Defrawy (T) d. Julie Cerullo 1,9,5
2) Libby Eyre (P) d. Catalina Pelaez 7,(7),8,(9),9
3) Wee Nee Low (T) d. Nicole Bunyan 6,7,(3),8
4) Ashley Tidman (T) d. Rachel Leizman 8,(4)(8),3,5
5) Robyn Hodgson (T) d. Alex Lunt (11),10,7,9
6) Natalie Babjukova (T) d. Lexi Saunders 4,(7),(10),8,10
7) Sachika Balvani (T) d. Alex Sawin 12,9,10
8) Tara Harrington (P) d. Jennifer Pelletier 9,7,9
9) Hallie Dewey (P) d. Chanel Erasmus 5,(11),6,5