The women’s squash team finally stepped back onto the courts this weekend as the Cardinals took their talents to Yale for the “C” Division Walker Cup. Entering the field with the top seed, Wesleyan was rightfully confident in sizing up familiar competitors such as Wellesley and Bowdoin. As ready as they were to bring the Walker Cup back to Middletown, the women’s squash team fell to Bowdoin in the final round of play in a contentious 5-4 loss to close out the tourney.
Things got off to a smooth start for the Cardinals on Friday, Feb. 15 as they squared off against early-season opponent Wellesley College. The story of the first match was the tremendous growth displayed by the Cardinals compared to their victories against Wellesley during the first half of the season. The Cardinals collectively harnessed their focus to block a first round upset. Wesleyan’s #2 through #9 seeds completely blanked their opponents shutting them out 3-0. Continuing her dominance at the #1 slot, Mary Foster ’14 sealed a tight victory for the Cardinals en route to a spotless weekend. The only other Cardinal to maintain a perfect Walker Cup mark was Liza Bayless ’16 on the other side of the match card holding down the #9 spot.
The Cardinals’ Saturday opponent proved to be a greater challenge, though not by much. In the semifinals, Wesleyan competed against the only squad in the tournament they had yet to face Drexel University. Besides the element of mystery, there was not much to behold for Drexel as the Cards dropped them 7-2. Depth and balance in the lineup have been crucial to success for the Cardinals this season, and it was proven true again on Saturday by the shutout victories of #7 Claire Miller ’15, #8 Kar-Anne Tan ’13 and #9 Bayless.
The final challenge of the weekend came on Sunday with the highly anticipated, conclusive battle between the Cardinals and the Bowdoin Polar Bears. Entering the matchup, the season series between the two rival NESCAC squads was square at one apiece, with both sides picking up 5-4 victories over the other on separate occasions. In the most recent matchup, the Cardinals came out on top in the second consolation round of the NESCAC Championship tournament. The rubber match followed suit with the previous two matches and was rife with dramatic action. Tied 3-3 entering the final round of matches, the Polar Bears won 3-0 at the #4 spot and then sealed their victory and the redemptive upset by upending the Cardinals 3-1 at #7.
Preventing a repeat of this heartbreaker for the Cardinals will rank high on their list of goals for next season, along with surpassing their 16 win total in 2013. The Cardinals have proven to have great strength and consistency in their program, having posted double-digit wins for six straight years now. The men resume play this upcoming weekend with national championship play at Yale, and the women close out in March with CSA individuals at Amherst.