BRENT SCHOELLER ’21
The Trinity College Women’s Squash team travelled to Cambridge, Mass. last Friday seeking a College Squash Association National Title. The Bantams made it all the way to the National Championship match before falling to a tough Harvard Crimson team. The women began the tournament by playing the Columbia Lions in the quarterfinal match up, easily winning the match by a score of 9-0. Stellar performances throughout the lineup led the Bantams to sweep eight of the nine matches with 3-0 scores. By winning in the quarterfinal, the women improved to 14-2 on the season, and showed just how dominant they can be. An impressive rookie performance came from Akanksha Salunkhe ’21, who allowed her opponent to win just ten total points in the 3-0 blowout victory. However, the most impressive aspect of the result in the quarterfinal was the overall dominance and depth of the Bantam team.
The women then went on to play the Princeton Tigers in the semifinal match up. This match was a chance at redemption for the Bantams, because earlier in the year Princeton had defeated Trinity 5-4 during an away match. Trinity took full advantage of their chance by defeating the Tigers 6-3 to advance to their first Howe Cup Final since 2015. This would allow the Bantams to improve to 15-2 on the year and set up a match against Harvard in the National Championship. However, much like the first win of the tournament the Bantams showed that they were clearly the better team in this matchup. They started with a close 2-1 score after the first wave thanks to impressive wins by captains Julia LeCoq ’18 (3-0) and Karolina Holinkova ’18 (3-2). The second wave players took care of business winning 3-0 with great wins from Vanessa Raj ’20, Salunkhe, and Salma Alam El Din ’20.
Despite two incredible victories over Columbia and Princeton, the Bantams would run into a difficult Harvard Crimson team in the championship match. Harvard, looking to finish out the season undefeated (15-0), took the championship match with a score of 9-0, proving that they are on another level compared to the Bantams. Jenny Haley ’19 came the closest to garnering a point for the Bantams, as she lost two of her four games by a score of 11-9, and won one game by a score of 11-9. Raneem Shareef ‘18 struggled in the number one spot, losing 3-0 to her Crimson opponent. Sharaf put up a fight in the second game of the match, losing by a close margin of 12-14. Vanessa Raj gave the Bantams a glimmer of hope when she won the first game in her match 11-7, but ultimately ended up losing in four games. With the win, Harvard won its fourth straight Howe Cup trophy.
Despite the loss, the Bantams can still be proud as they finished the year with an extremely impressive record of 15-3, with two of the losses being against Harvard. They were able to get back to the national championship for the first time since the 2014-15 year and, with six starters returning for next year, it seems that the women’s squash team will be successful for years to come.