Harvard Women Capture Sixth Championship In A Row With 5-0 Win

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Harvard University captured their sixth Howe Cup in a row with a win over Princeton on Sunday (all photos: Michael T. Bello)

The 2020 College Squash Association (CSA) National Collegiate Women’s Team Championships culminated on Saturday with five finals and additional matches deciding final team placements. Yale University played host to all five finals and plenty of exciting matches throughout the day on Sunday.

Harvard University won their sixth Howe Cup – the women’s team national championship trophy – in a row and 20th overall on Sunday afternoon with a 5-0 win over second seed Princeton. For the first time in championship history, the match was played to decision, with Harvard earning victories in the first five matches of the contest to clinch the championship.

Full results for the competition are available at the Tournament Homepage.

Howe Division

After Princeton almost upset Harvard during the regular season, there was great anticipation that the Howe Cup final would be an instant classic. Harvard had not lost in over 70 matches at the time, but there was a feeling that this Princeton team could be the one to take them down on the big stage.

Elle Ruggiero (Princeton) and Georgina Kennedy (Harvard)

Harvard’s opening players did their best to quell that heightened intensity with strong starts on all three courts. Each Crimson player – No. 3 Hana Moataz, No. 4 Amina Yousry, and No. 9 Charlotte Orcutt – jumped out to a 2-0 lead, setting the tone for the rest of the match. Their Princeton opponents tried to fight back into the match, with two of them winning their respective third games, but it was not meant to be in the first wave. Harvard took a commanding 3-0 lead.

With the match decision fast approaching, the second wave of players stepped on court. Harvard’s No. 1 Gina Kennedy – who had been honored as the Betty Richey Award winner prior to the match – promptly dispatched her opponent in three games to earn a 4-0 team score. The race to the fifth point was on, ultimately with junior Hannah Craig logging the winning point with a 3-0 win of her own. Harvard’s Amelia Henley and Princeton’s Grace Doyle earned the remaining two wins from the matches on court.

In results that closely mirrored the exciting regular season match-ups, all three remaining Howe Cup matches went to very tight 5-4 scorelines. For third place, Yale emerged victorious over Trinity. Columbia earned their highest finish in program history with a win over Stanford in the fifth-place match. And, Drexel outlasted Penn, also clinching their highest finish ever.

Kurtz Division

Kurtz Cup winners University of Virginia

With top-seeded Dartmouth and second seed Virginia meeting for the first time this season in the Kurtz Division final, an epic battle ensured in a great finals match-up. Dartmouth had the early momentum with a strong start, capturing wins in all three of the first-wave matches. Two of those matches went to five games, adding to the tension of the moment.

Virginia stormed back in response, however, earning relatively quick wins at No. 1 and No. 6 to get back in the game. The balance of the match at the time hung on the No. 2 match between Dartmouth’s Emma Supattapone and Virginia’s Maria Moya-Lopez. Supattapone jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Moya-Lopez gradually ground her way back into the match. With the Virginia Cavalier fully completing the comeback, the win was there for Virginia’s taking. The Cavaliers won going away, taking the match and the Kurtz Cup trophy, by a 6-3 margin.

The Kurtz Division saw a few other close matches, with Cornell, Williams, and Middlebury earning wins over Brown, George Washington, and Bates, respectively.

Walker Division

Walker Cup winners Amherst College

Amherst College came into the tournament as heavy favorites to win the Walker Cup after being the odd team out of a close trio of squads vying for the final Kurtz Cup spots. With a chip on their shoulder and end-of-season momentum, Amherst charged out to an early lead against second-seeded Franklin & Marshall that they would never relinquish. F&M’s number seven player, Zoe Quayle, earned the lone point for her team in a five-game marathon, but Amherst’s victory rarely looked in doubt after their convincing start.

The remaining Walker Division matches were well-played and convincing victories for the winning sides.  Tufts handled another challenge from Wesleyan, 8-1. Dickinson pulled the upset over fifth-seeded Bowdoin in the fifth place match, and William Smith earned a well-fought 6-3 win over Hamilton.

Epps Division

Epps Cup winners Connecticut College

The drama at the end of Epps Division final between the top two seeds – Connecticut College and St. Lawrence – might have been as heightened as we saw all day in Yale’s Brady Squash Center. Conn College rushed out to a convincing 3-0 lead and appeared to be in the driver’s seat. To their credit, St. Lawrence clawed their way back into the match on the strength of two successive wins each on the top two courts.

Everything came down to a well-contested battle between St. Lawrence’s Alexandra Limas and Conn College’s Kayla Waterhouse in the number eight position. Limas twice battled back from a one-game deficit to send the match to a fifth game. That game was close until late, when Waterhouse – the newly minted Ann Wetzel Award winner – reeled off a few points in a row to clinch the match and the trophy for her team.

Over at the Hopkins School, Colby earned a one-place bump in the rankings with a win over Georgetown, Haverford played to their seed after beating Boston College, and Bucknell outlasted Mount Holyoke for the seventh position.

E Division

E Division winners Northeastern University

The top two seeds started the day off at Yale this morning with a great contest between rising squads, Vassar College and Northeastern University. Similar to other final matches today, Vassar looked to be in a comfortable position, leading 2-1 after the first wave of matches. But, once again showing that every position counts the same, Northeastern started to turn the tide in their favor with two wins in the second wave, knotting the match at 3 apiece. Carrying that momentum over to the third round, Northeastern sped ahead, winning all three matches and the championship for the second time in three years.

In other E Division play, Denison confirmed their seed with an emphatic win in the third-place playoff. On the consolation side, Washington University in St. Louis and Colgate University earned wins on the final day.