PHILADELPHIA - Jumping right into the heart of its schedule from the start, women's squash will take on third-ranked Princeton (2-0) in its season opener Saturday afternoon at the Ringe Squash Courts. The women's match is scheduled to take place at 3:30 p.m. This match will be preceded by the men's match at 1 p.m. The Quakers are starting out the 2011-12 campaign ranked fifth in the country.
The Quakers do not have any seniors on the squad, but do not lack for experience either as they return eight of the top-nine players from last season, including four of their five All-Americans from a season ago. The Quakers' No. 1 player from a season ago, Nabilla Ariffin, finished with the season with her second consecutive second-team All-American honor. Now serving as a captain this season, Ariffin compiled nine wins last season at the top of the ladder. She has played No. 1 or No. 2 in each of her first two seasons at Penn.
Fellow captain Pia Trikha also earned second-team All-American honors last season as a sophomore. She played exclusively at No. 5 and finished the second with a team-best 16-2 record. She has gone 30-4 in her first two seasons at Penn and is an incredible 11-1 against Ivy League opponents in the regular season. She won 14 straight matches to start the 2010-11 season. Penn's lone first-team All-American, Rachael Goh, played primarily in the No. 2 position and recorded a 12-5 record last season, advancing all the way to the quarterfinals of the CSA Individual Championships. Goh has a 27-9 career record after two seasons at Penn, including a 9-3 record in regular season Ivy League play.
The final returning All-American to this year's squad is Yarden Odinak. She played primarily at the No. 4 position in the ladder, but was as high as No. 2 during some parts of last season. She won 13 consecutive matches to start the 2010-11 season and finished with an overall record of 14-3. She has compiled a 28-7 record in her first two years at Penn. The fifth and final junior on the squad, Stephanie Vogel, finished last season with an 8-5 record after splitting time at No. 6 and No. 7. All of her victories last season came via 3-0 sweeps. For her career she is 12-5 in matches played inside the top-nine.
Three sophomores also return after successful freshmen campaigns. Courtney Jones won 15 matches as a freshman. She opened last season winning seven of her first eight matches and capped her first year with wins in six of her last seven matches, finishing the year playing at No. 6. Chloe Blacker played primarily at No. 8 in her first season at Penn, finishing with a 10-4 record. Eight of her victories came in 3-0 sweeps. Hyland Murphy finished her freshman campaign at 8-6, playing all but one match at No. 9. All of her wins were 3-0 sweeps.
In addition to the eight returnees, Penn added depth with five incoming freshmen - Colleen Fehm, Leslie Gill, Jennie Shulkin, Lyles Swift-Farley, and Lindsay Wong. Three members of the incoming class, (Fehm, Gill, and Swift-Farley) come to Penn from Philadelphia area schools.
Princeton swept both Middlebury and Franklin & Marshall two weekends ago, but has been idle since. The Tigers return two All-Americans in Julie Cerullo and Libby Eyre. Last season Penn split with Princeton. When the two teams met in the regular season, Penn was down 4-1 but ran off four consecutive victories that culminated with then senior Annie Madeira's win. In the Howe Cup, Princeton evened the score with a 7-2 win in the opening round of the Howe Cup.
After the Ivy League opener this weekend, the women's team will have just one more match before the New Year. To finish up 2011, the Quakers will take on Williams next Saturday, December 10 at 11 a.m. inside the Ringe Squash Courts.