CSA Women’s Team Nationals: Day One

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Stanford sophomore Caroline Neave earned the match-clinching victory at the No. 4 position against Yale’s Aishwarya Battacharya in four games. Stanford edged Yale 5-4 for a berth in the semifinals against top seed Harvard. (photo credit: Michael T. Bello)

Friday marked the beginning of the 2019 CSA Women’s Team National Championships hosted by Trinity College and Wesleyan University, with five divisions comprised of 43 teams starting play. Live streaming (at Trinity) and all live scores can be found on the Championship Page.

Howe Division

Competition for the Howe Cup kicked off on Friday will the matches meeting most fans’ expectations. Top overall seed Harvard remained unbeaten and kept their unblemished record in tact with a 9-0 victory over Drexel.  Host Trinity, the third seed, dispatched Penn with relative ease, 8-1, with Penn’s No. 1 and reigning CSA Individual Champion Reeham Sedky earning the lone point for her team.  Second seed Princeton beat Columbia 6-3 with all three match wins for the Lions coming from their top three players on the glass court.

The match of the day at Trinity – 4-seed Stanford against 5-seed Yale – featured all of the intrigue and drama of a budding rivalry. Yale traveled to California to play a road match at Stanford this season, ending in a 7-2 loss for the Bulldogs, but Friday’s match was much closer. The strength of Yale’s top three players was balanced by Stanford’s depth at the bottom of the ladder, leaving the result in the hands of the 4, 5, and 6 players.  The teams split the first two matches, including a five-game win by Stanford’s No. 6 Lucy Rowe. In the end, Caroline Neave, Stanford’s No. 4, outlasted her opponent in four games to seal the victory and a date with Harvard in Saturday’s semifinal.

Kurtz Division

Each of the top four seeds progressed to the semifinals in the Kurtz Division, which will also have a distinct Ivy League feel. The team that faced the most pressure was top seed Dartmouth, who surrendered two matches to upset-minded Amherst.  In the other match in the top half of the bracket, fourth seed Brown made no mistake in the opportunity to beat 5-seed Williams for the second time this season.

In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Virginia and third seed Cornell were victorious, surrendering only one individual match between the two of them.  George Washington’s Engy Elmandouh won that upset match at the No. 2 position and then gave way to one of the more intriguing match-ups of the tournament. Malaysian countrywomen Sivasangari Subramaniam of Cornell and Zoe Foo Yuk Han of George Washington met in the No. 1 match.  Highly-regarded Subramaniam received a jolt when Han won the second game, but she regrouped to take the next two games and the overall victory.

Walker Division

As should be expected, it was another 4-versus-5 match-up that produced the closest scores of the day in the Walker Division.  Mount Holyoke improved all season, earning an overall ranking of 21 and the 5-seed, but on Friday they met a deep Franklin & Marshall team, who won six of the nine matches for the victory. Tournament co-host Wesleyan earned a point and pushed four other matches beyond three games, but their upset bid fell short by a 8-1 score.  Top seed Tufts and 3-seed Bates each won their match handily, 9-0.

Epps Division

In the battles of club teams versus varsity teams that made up the first round of the Epps Division draw, the varsity teams prevailed despite strong fights from their opponents. In particular, the bottom half of the draw featured two tight contests. 6-seed Georgetown pushed William Smith, especially at the bottom of the ladder, but couldn’t break through for more than their two victories.  Bucknell, the 7-seed, also secured two victories, but Haverford took the win with strength at the top of their lineup.  Wins by top seed Colby and fourth seed Conn College set up a semifinal of familiar foes, with Colby having beaten Conn twice this year by close scorelines.

E Division

Wesleyan played host to the play-in games in the E Division, with winners taking their spots in the eight-team quarterfinal.  Bard and North Carolina each won by close 5-4 margins over Rochester and Johns Hopkins, respectively, while Bowdoin got their first win of the year against Denison. The top five teams in the bracket will have their first matches on Saturday.