With one of its gutsiest efforts of the season, the Princeton women's squash team pulled off its second upset of the weekend and clinched third place in the final national standings with a 5-4 home victory over third-seeded Trinity Sunday afternoon during the final day of the Howe Cup championships.
The win comes exactly one week after Trinity handed the Tigers their worst loss of the season, an 8-1 road defeat that figured to send Princeton staggering into the national championship weekend.
Head coach Gail Ramsay thought differently, though. She believed her team was primed for its best weekend of the season, and her mostly young squad rewarded her faith with wins over both No. 4 Penn and No. 3 Trinity. The team's only loss was a 6-3 defeat to Yale, which defeated Harvard 5-4 to win the national team title; two of Princeton's losses to Yale were by two points in the fifth games.
Princeton showed its resilence after the first Trinity loss by knocking off Penn 7-2 in the Howe Cup quarterfinal, and it showed it again after the hard-fought heartbreaker against Yale Saturday. With third place on the line against a team that had won two straight over the Tigers, Princeton fought to the very end for a well-deserved third-place finish.
The Bantams did get out to the early lead by winning twice during the first shift. Jennifer Pelletier avenged her loss at No. 3 last weekend by topping Tiger freshman Libby Eyre 8, 4, 12. Eyre had won seven straight matches coming into Sunday, including wins over Yale, Harvard, Trinity and Penn, and showed that she would be a force in Ramsay's lineup for the next three years.
Trinity went up 2-0 with a 3-0 win from Robyn Williams over Tiger freshman Caroline Feeley at the No. 9 spot. Feeley, whose 3-0 win over Penn ignited the quarterfinal victory, ended her team season with 10 wins for Princeton.
The Bantams were in position to make it a 3-0 lead when Alicia Rodriguez Acosta went up 2-1 over Alex Sawin at the No. 6 spot, but Sawin spent the weekend proving her big-match poise. Following a five-game win over Penn and a 3-0 win over Yale, Sawin rallied for wins of 11-7 and 11-9 to keep Princeton within one match heading into the second shift. The win was all the more impressive considering Sawin had lost to Acosta in three games the previous week.
Trinity got its third win when Pamela Hathway topped Jackie Moss 9, 5, 13 at the No. 2 position, but both other matches were much closer. Sophomore Casey Cortes joined Sawin as a Princeton unbeaten this weekend with a 10, 9, (2), 8 win over Andrea Echeverria; Cortes had lost to Echeverria in five the previous week, but she capped a brilliant weekend with this hard-fought win.
Princeton evened the match at No. 5, where junior Katie Giovinazzo showed the highest level of resilience in a 3-1 win over Emery Holton. Giovinazzo had lost to Holton the previous weekend and had lost back-to-back five-game matches over the previous two days, including a 14-12 loss in the fifth against Yale. After a 14-12 loss in the second game evened the match at one game apiece, Giovinazzo would not be denied and finished the match with consecutive 11-6 wins.
Both teams needed a 2-1 edge in the third shift to claim victory. Trinity got its fourth win when Wee Nee Low topped Lexi Saunders in three games at the No. 4 spot, but Princeton battled back with a very impressive 3-1 win for sophomore Julie Cerullo at the top position. It was the victory of the year for Cerullo, who took a 2-0 lead with wins of 12-10 and 11-9 before finishing the match with a 13-11 victory over Pelaez, whose only losses all season had been to reigning national champion Laura Gemmell of Harvard.
That put the match on the racket of senior Nikki Sequeira, who was playing the final home match of her career. Two years earlier, her comeback from a 2-0 deficit helped Princeton win a national championship over Harvard. In her final team match, she rallied from a 2-1 deficit with wins of 11-5 and 11-7 to finish off the Tigers' best team win of the season.
1 - Julie Cerullo (P) d. Catalina Pelaez 10, 9, (10), 11
2 - Pamela Hathway (T) d. Jackie Moss 9, 5, 13
3 - Jennifer Pelletier (T) d. Libby Eyre 8, 4, 12
4 - Wee Nee Low (T) d. Lexi Saunders 6, 11, 9
5 - Katie Giovinazzo (P) d. Emery Holton 7, (12), 6, 6
6 - Alex Sawin (P) d. Alicia Rodriguez Acosta (7), 13, (8), 7, 9
7 - Nikki Sequeira (P) d. Robyn Hodgson (3), 7, (5), 5, 7
8 - Casey Cortes (P) d. Andrea Echeverria 10, 9, (2), 8
9 - Robyn Williams (T) d. Caroline Feeley 4, 6, 2