By Daniel Wu
No. 6 Stanford squash (7-7) was edged out by No. 8 Columbia (11-7) 5-4 in the fifth-place playoff match of the National Championships on Sunday to confirm a No. 6 end of season ranking.
The match concludes a frustrating postseason for the Cardinal, which battled through three matches all decided by 5-4 scores. Stanford fell out of contention for a top 4 finish after losing to No. 3 Yale (14-4) in Friday’s opening round. In the consolation draw, Stanford reversed a regular season loss to No. 7 Drexel (12-8) on Saturday to advance to the fifth-place playoff match.
As the scorelines suggest, each of Stanford’s matches hinged on the slimmest of margins. Particularly agonizing was Friday’s loss to the Bulldogs, which saw both sophomore Elena Wagenmans and junior Juliette Love lose tiebreakers in deciding fifth games. Wagenmans held two match balls to clinch a Cardinal victory before Yale top seed Lucy Beecroft came back to steal the win.
Relegated to the consolation draw by the difference of two points, Stanford regrouped to eke out a difficult win against Drexel on Saturday. The Cardinal had lost to the Dragons in Philadelphia in November — also by a 5-4 score — and fell behind early, but a strong effort from Stanford’s top five positions allowed them to storm back and flip the result.
Columbia’s depth proved to be the difference in Stanford’s final matchup, as the Lions won at positions 6 through 9 to build up a commanding lead. Though Stanford beat Columbia 5-4 in New York in January, the Cardinal were playing without regular No. 9 freshman Haley Aube this weekend, who was sidelined with an ankle injury.
In the main draw finals, No. 1 Harvard (17-0) defeated No. 2 Princeton (14-2) in the Howe Cup finals to claim the National Championship and continue a Crimson stranglehold over college squash.
The Cardinal’s matches further confirmed the stifling parity across the top women’s squash programs that has emerged this season. All matches in the consolation draw between Stanford, Drexel, Columbia and No. 5 Pennsylvania (8-8) were decided by 5-4 scores.
Junior Caroline Neave and freshman Cassie Ong contributed strong performances for the Cardinal, sweeping their three matches over the tournament. Seniors Casey Wong, Chloe Chemtob, Julia Gilette and Sun Woo Lee also played their final matches for Stanford this weekend.
Stanford finishes the season ranked sixth, down from No. 3 last year. The Cardinal will look to replace a strong senior class and continue its push up the rankings next year.
Contact Daniel Wu at dwu21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.