February 17, 2013

Fords rally past Tufts to capture CSA E Division championship

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Haverford College women's squash team rallied past Tufts University, 6-3, on Sunday to earn the E Division title at the College Squash Association (CSA) 2013 Women's National Team Championships hosted by Yale University.

Sophomore Samara Flug, playing at No. 6, helped the 34th-ranked Fords (7-11) get off to a good start against the Jumbos (5-13) as she relinquished just 14 points to Charlotte Griffiths (11-3, 11-9, 11-2).

Claiming her fifth consecutive victory of the season, senior Miriam Fuchs, at No. 9, registered Haverford's second point of the contest as she shook off a game-one loss and took the next three from Denise Amisial (9-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-6).

The tightly-contested match continued with sophomore Alex Love, at No. 3, falling to Ushashi Basu in heartbreaking fashion. Trailing 2-1 to Bashu, Love pulled out an 11-9 victory in game four to force a deciding game. Bashu pushed out to an early lead but Love was far from finished as she fought off numerous match points before Bashu closed out the close 15-13 victory.

Tufts managed to inch out to a 3-2 overall lead with victories at Nos. 5 and 4 but the Fords remained poised and kept focused on the task at hand.

Needing victories in three of the final four matches of the day, Haverford looked for a morale boost and senior Hannah Miler, at No. 8, delivered as she outlasted Chelsea Dickson in a five-game nailbiter (11-1, 5-11, 11-9, 3-11, 13-11). Miller's match was the second of the day that went to extra points in the decisive game.

Bethany Simmonds, playing at No. 2, also found herself in a battle as she lost her first two games to Ann Bellinger. Altering her game plan slightly, Simmonds improved her shot quality and made sure to keep Bellinger behind her which enabled her to control the center of the court. The adjustments brought about a reversal in momentum as Simmonds roared back to take the final three games (6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-2, 11-6).

Leading 4-3 overall, the Fords looked to Sarah Madigan or Caroline Nightingale to provide one more point to secure the match and cap off a perfect 3-0 weekend for the squad. Madigan, at No. 7, won her first two games but Sarah Pratt answered with two straight wins of her own, by narrow margins, to set up yet another deciding fifth game.

While Pratt and Madigan were about to square off in game five, Nightingale, at No. 1, concentrated on not allowing Jessica Rubine to do much with the ball through hard, low shots into the back. Nightingale's determined effort translated to a 2-0 advantage before Rubine came back to win the third game, 11-8.

As Nightingale and Rubine got set for game four, Madigan and Pratt battled to the end with both players having an opportunity for match point before Madigan came through with a 15-13 victory.

Feeding off of the resounding cheers of triumph from her teammates, Nightingale persevered to close out her own match with a 12-10 victory.

Reflecting on what made the difference on Sunday, head coach Niki Clement said, "Each player played a key role as they continued to respond to setbacks in a positive, poised and focused manner."

Haverford's win gives the women's program its second CSA team championship division title overall as the Fords won the D Division in 1996. The undefeated weekend at Yale also concludes a successful season of growth as the Fords' seven wins ties them with the 2002-2003 squad for the second-most wins in program history.