CAMBRIDGE, MA- The Ephs battled fiercely and victoriously through the first round of nationals, coming back from a 4-0 deficit to top the University of Virginia 5-4 in he national quarterfinals.
Having lost to the UVA Wahoos 5-4 on Jan. 28 in a match played at MIT, the team had been training for weeks to face this opponent.
Additionally, the Ephs had high aspirations for their capacity to do well in this tournament, which required beating UVA in the first round. After a morning in Boston, the team arrived at the Harvard courts ready for vengeance.
In the first round, all three purple cows lost in 3 (Caroline Hogan at number 9, Sarah Willwerth at number 6, and Julia Ward at number 3), despite good play: but this, perhaps invaluably, put pressure on the rest of the Ephs to play their very best. Going into the next round, spirits were slightly lower, but nonetheless, hope remained.
Co-captain Ananya Mahalingam-Dhringa lost in 3 at the number 5 position and UVA owned a 4-0 lead. These losses are a testament to the strength and skill of the Ephs' opponent, who was truly not to be under-estimated and whom it would be a crime not to commend. At this moment, with the team having lost 4 matches, every Eph player on court or about to be on court had to win. This is an incredibly tense situation which places enormous pressure on any team, especially one that has had such close results against the same opponent.
Yet, in a stunning show of steadfast determination, the Williams team pulled through to victory. On the top courts, Co-captains Hayley Parsons and Nicole Friedman (at numbers 2 and 1 respectively) clinched crisp victories, boosting morale and inspiring all. Melissa Swann, at the number 7 position, also won. The audience then began to watch Abby Leblanc play her opponent at number 6, while simultaneously attempting to watch Esther Baek, at number 4, battle with her Wahoo counterpart.
When the final game of Abby's well played 4-game match ended, and all of the Williams' parents slowly exhaled the breath they had been holding in during the final rally, all eyes turned to Esther. In a true "Broadway Show" of a match, as one spectator referred to it, Esther's match was one of the more exciting women's squash matches an Eph has ever be played or viewed. Baek played beautifully under incredible amounts of pressure in order to clinch a crucial victory.
The Ephs are excited about their play today, but will not be distracted by victory. They are now preparing to face the Big Green of Dartmouth tomorrow.
Coach Blair Dils commented, "What a win for our team tonight. To bounce back from a 4-0 deficit was amazing. The players in the final round really dug in and gutted out wins. We're fortunate to be heading to the semifinals, and we're excited to take on Dartmouth tomorrow."
Co-captain Ananya Mahalingam-Dhingra stated, "Incredibly proud of how the team played today - despite a rough start, the team stayed focus and strong and the 5 winning players really earned those points. Special shoutout to Esther for an amazing win under pressure - definitely a match none of us will forget! We look forward to continuing the momentum to face Dartmouth tomorrow"
|Williams College||Rating||University of Virginia||Rating||Winner's Score||Winner||Status|
|1WS||Friedman, Nicole T.||4.73423||Danforth, Carey||4.48537||11-5,11-7,11-4||Williams College||C|
|2WS||Parsons, Hayley L.||4.61459||Woodworth, Emily C.||4.47107||11-4,11-5,11-9||Williams College||C|
|3WS||Ward, Julia H.||4.63974||Thompson, Julia W||4.41607||11-9,11-8,11-8||University of Virginia||C|
|4WS||Baek, Esther||4.40938||Arya, Tara||4.37688||13-15,11-8,11-9,10-12,11-3||Williams College||C|
|5WS||Mahalingam-Dhingra, Ananya||4.23317||Doss, Sarah R.||4.33922||11-6,11-9,11-6||University of Virginia||C|
|6WS||Willwerth, Sarah||4.20822||Tyson, Diane J||4.33877||11-8,11-2,11-4||University of Virginia||C|
|7WS||LeBlanc, Abigail||4.25705||Mayhew, Madeleine L.||4.21837||11-5,9-11,11-7,11-5||Williams College||C|
|8WS||Swann, Melissa||4.35789||Ezratty, Isabelle||4.17367||11-7,9-11,11-5,11-5||Williams College||C|
|9WS||Hogan, Caroline M.||4.08175||Veiga, Giovanna V||4.19386||11-5,11-7,11-9||University of Virginia||C|