This weekend women’s squash emerged from the CSA National Championships having protected its No. 6 national ranking. While Princeton bested the host [img_assist|nid=35185|title=Off the wall|desc=Junior co-captain Liza Stokes competes in a match against St. Lawrence on Feb. 2. Stokes blanked her Stanford opponent, 3-0, on Saturday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]team, Harvard, 5-4, to clinch the Howe Cup division title, the Red also had a solid showing in Cambridge, going 1-2 against three of the top eight teams in the nation.
“It was an outstanding team effort of many close, hard-fought individual matches, with all players giving 110 percent … our best performance yet,” said head coach Julee Devoy.
“Every single girl did exactly what was asked of her, and more,” said senior co-captain Alex Cornett. “Some of the freshmen obviously don’t realize how we would just get trounced by these teams four years ago, and how incredibly close we are with them now.”
Cornell kicked things off on Friday against the No. 3-seeded Penn. An upset was not in the cards, however, as the Red fell to the Quakers, 8-1, with its sole victory coming from freshman Clare Berner in the No. 9 spot. Cornett and junior Annie Ritter both played heavily-contested five-game matches at the Nos. 5 and 8 positions, respectively, but ultimately came out on the losing end.
“Our first match … didn’t go quite so well,” said Devoy. “[The women] didn’t really perform as well as they would have liked to perform … [but] that’s part of competition, and that happens.”
On Saturday, the Red managed to rebound from its loss to Penn, however, posting a 6-3 victory over Stanford.
“Friday morning was a rough start for us,” said junior co-captain Liza Stokes. “But everyone was really on their game on Saturday against Stanford, which was our most important match in order to maintain our No. 6 ranking,”
Playing at the No. 2 spot, freshman Shivangi Paranjpe won her first two games, 9-7, 9-7, before surrendering games three and four to her opponent. Paranjpe would rally in the fifth and final set, however, securing a decisive 9-1 victory.
Sophomore Jen Gemmell and Stokes both blanked their opponents, 3-0. Cornett exchanged games with her opponent before closing out the match, 9-4, in the fifth. At the No. 6 position, freshman Lauren Sachvie survived a tight first set to preserve a shutout, and sophomore Izzy Spyrou only dropped the second game of her match en route to a 9-6, 2-9, 9-4, 9-1 win at the ninth spot.
“There was added pressure in knowing that Stanford’s match would be even closer than it was during the season because their top player was back in their line-up,” Cornett said. “But we had exactly the same result against them this weekend as we did in January, so obviously we were up to the challenge.”
The following afternoon, Cornell took on Yale, with the Nos. 5 and 6 spots on the line. The Red faltered to the Bulldogs, 8-1, but according to Devoy, “the scoreboard doesn’t really reflect the intensity of each individual match … all the matches were very closely-contested, everyone testing their opponents.”
Playing in the final team match of her collegiate career, Cornett secured the team’s only win on Sunday –– a 4-9, 10-9, 9-2, 9-3 victory that came against an opponent who had beaten her earlier in the season.
“I was really happy with how I played … bit of a slow start on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday were really good matches to end my team performance for Cornell on,” Cornett said.
“[Alex Cornett] is an incredible team player,” Devoy said. “[She] handles pressure well and more often than not comes through with the crucial wins. She had an outstanding tournament, and is going to be sorely missed next year.”
Despite its loss to Yale, by beating Stanford the team ensured that it would not have a repeat experience of last year, in which the Red beat Williams in the regular season, only to lose to them at Nationals. That loss bumped Cornell down a spot in the rankings –– a trend the team managed to avoid this time around.
“It was a good event all-around, and a really pleasing way to finish the season,” Devoy said.