CSA Women’s Team National Championships: Semifinals

Trinity’s Akanksha Salunkhe impressed in her victory at the No. 5 position over Princeton’s Samantha Chai (photo credit: Michael T. Bello)

Teams at the CSA Women’s Team National Championships played semifinal matches across five divisions on Saturday.  All division finals will be played at Trinity College tomorrow, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Before the Howe Division semifinals on Saturday, the CSA also celebrated the induction of three members of the College Squash Hall of Fame Class of 2019 – Jordanna Fraiberg, Amina Helal, and Wendy Bartlett.

Follow full results and play throughout the weekend at the Tournament Page, including live streaming and live scores through Club Locker.

Howe Division

Top-seeded Harvard exerted their dominance over another opponent in the Howe Cup semifinal on Saturday, but it was the 2-versus-3 semifinal that grabbed the headlines. Coming off the CSA Hall of Fame induction ceremony, where two members of the Trinity Squash family were celebrated, Trinity had the home crowd behind them in the contest with Princeton. Princeton won a tight 5-4 match at Trinity during the regular season, but Trinity rose to the occasion, scoring a major 7-2 victory over the second-seeded Tigers.

The early matches appeared to be a sign of things to come, with two of the three progressing to hotly contested five games. Each team won one of the five-game battles, and with Princeton’s win at No. 9, the Tigers had a 2-1 lead. The flow of the match changed considerably from that point forward, however, as one Trinity player after another captured a 3-0 victory.  In the end, Trinity had won six straight matches and the right to meet Harvard in Sunday’s National Championship Final.

Harvard got off to a fast start against Stanford and never looked back.  Stanford’s Caroline Neave, the hero of Friday’s victory over Yale, was the lone Cardinal player to win a game against the talented Harvard lineup. The Harvard-Trinity finals match-up will be a rematch of their regular season contest, which Harvard won 9-0.

Kurtz Division

The closest match of the day came in the Kurtz Division semifinal between No. 2 Virginia and No. 3 Cornell.  Both teams had a very different construction from when they met early in the season in December, but clearly the changes only brought the result closer together.  Five of the first six matches went to five games.  Cornell lost two of the first three five-gamers, but responded to win the next two, creating a 4-2 lead after the first two waves. Cornell’s No. 1 player Siva Subramaniam promptly secured the victory in three games and the spot in Kurtz final.

Dartmouth and Brown, the other two Kurtz semifinalists, played a very close 5-4 contest as a part of the regular season Ivy League schedule, and the division final berth that was on the line ratcheted up the pressure.  The tide of the match ultimately turned in Dartmouth’s favor during the second wave of matches when the Big Green pulled out two five-game victories. Dartmouth clinched victories in the final three matches, taking the win 7-2. Dartmouth and Cornell met in mid-January with the Big Green capturing a close 5-4 victory.

Walker Division

Tufts University, having almost crept into the Kurtz Division at the end of the regular season, exhibited their strength as the top seed in the Walker Division with a strong 7-2 victory over 4-seed Franklin & Marshall. F&M won two of the top three matches, but their bottom of the ladder was no match for Tufts’s depth. Rachel Windreich, Tufts’s No. 6, took the victory in extra points in the fifth game to help give Tufts an early 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish.

Very early on in the season, Dickinson and Bates met during the latter’s southern road trip, and Dickinson defended home court in a 5-4 win. Saturday evening saw a completely different result, however, with Bates exhibiting dominance from the very first match.  Three matches went to five games, including a battle at No. 9 won by Bates which set the tone for the rest of the match. Bates emerged victorious in all three of those contests and ran away with the win from there.

Epps Division

The Epps Division was flipped upside down on semifinals day, with both of the top seeds falling in tightly contested matches. Top seed Colby faced 4-seed Connecticut College for the third time this season, and the mantra that it is hard to beat a team three times in one season held true.  Conn jumped out to an important early lead, going 3-0 in the first wave of matches.  Then, they promptly clinched the victory with two more wins in quick succession.  Colby fought back to win three matches later in the match, but the outcome was no longer in doubt.

William Smith also scored the upset, taking down Haverford in the 2-versus-3 match-up. The underdogs captured the early momentum, going 2-1 in the first wave, including a big five-game comeback victory by William Smith’s No. 3 Michaelann Denton.  Matches in positions five through nine all went past the minimum three games, with William Smith winning three of them. The Herons then used the strength of the top of their lineup to close out the win.

E Division

In the morning’s quarterfinal matches, the four winners clearly earned their spots in semis with emphatic 9-0 victories. The top two seeds Vassar and Washington University in St. Louis held their seedings with ease, but 3-seed Wellesley and 4-seed Fordham suffered different fates.  Sixth seed Bowdoin came off their play-in match from Friday evening with energy and knocked off Wellesley, while Colgate handled Fordham in the first match of the day.

E Division top seed Vassar continued their run of success in the semifinal match against Colgate.  Going 2-1 in each of the three waves, Vassar earned the finals berth comfortably. Bowdoin, the sixth seed who came into the tournament winless, ran their winning streak to three games with their 6-3 victory over 2-seed Wash. U. Bowdoin’s No. 9 Catherine Adams won a critical five-game early victory in the first wave which sparked the momentum and propelled the team to the finals-clinching victory.