HANOVER, N.H. - For the Penn women's squash team, Sunday's match with Dartmouth would be a day to remember. After traveling through a snowstorm to get to Hanover, N.H., the Quakers showed no signs of wear as they dominated the Big Green, winning 9-0 to clinch the Ivy League title.
"In a lot of ways, this has been a storybook season so far," said head coach Jack Wyant. "To get a chance to go onthe trip to Cape Town, South Africa, and now to win the Ivy title, there's no denyingthat. Butgood fortune goes too teams that work really hard, and thisteam definitely did that.They have a great chemistry, and that goes a long way."
Lauralynn Drury and Annie Madeira got the team off to a quick start, as each won their match 3-0. Drury, the senior co-captain playing at No. 9, won in dominating fashion, 9-1, 9-0, 9-1. The freshman Madeira won 9-2, 9-1, 9-5 at No. 6. Meanwhile, No. 3 Tara Chawla did not wilt under the pressure of an 0-2 deficit, pulling out a 3-2 victory (9-10, 2-9, 9-7, 9-6, 9-2) to give the Quakers a commanding 3-0 lead.
"We had to go through a snowstorm to get up here, and everyone was anxious and excited after yesterday," said Drury. "But once we got on court and had some good matches, we were ready to go."
Senior co-captain Elizabeth Kern was the next to win, claiming a 3-1 victory at No. 8 (8-10, 9-2, 9-0, 9-1)to pull the Quakers within one win of the title.
Junior Alisha Turner dropped her first game at No. 2, losing 9-5. After that, it was all Turner, as she won 9-7, 9-0, 9-0 in the final three games to take her match and clinch the title for Penn. The Quakers weren't done, though. Christina Matthias, like Chawla earlier, found herself down 2-0 (3-9, 4-9) early before rallying. She won the third game 9-5, then pulled out a tense 10-8 victory before sealing the deal with a 9-2 triumph in the fifth game.
Having ensured an unblemished regular season, Penn wanted to settle for nothing less than a shutout in the season finale. Emily Goodwin took care of business at No. 7, winning 3-1 (9-2, 7-9, 9-2, 9-4). At No. 4, Britt Hebden dropped the first game 10-8 before rebounding to win her match in four, 8-10, 9-1, 9-3, 9-5. Finally, at No. 1, the nation's second-ranked player, Kristen Lange, closed her regular season in style, winning 3-0 (9-6, 9-2, 9-3).
The victory gave the Quakers their first Ivy League title since 1999-2000. That year, the team also went on to win the national championship at the Howe Cup, finishing their season 11-0. This year's team looks to emulate those Quakers when they travel to Princeton for the Howe Cup February 22-24.
With Howe Cup looming, the celebration after clinching the Ivy League title was, according to Wyant, "relatively subdued." His co-captain Drury explained why.
"We definitely don't feel like this season is over," she said. "The Howe Cup is an opportunity for us to play well again, and it's an opportuntiy for us to prove ourselves again. This win was great, but we know that there is a lot more work left to do."
Nevertheless, the team's second Ivy League title is a special one.
"I'm really happy for the women on the team," Wyant said. "They worked incredibly hard - and our seniors have done so for four years now. They deserve this championship."
1. Kristen Lange def. Ashley Malenchak, 3-0 (9-6, 9-2, 9-3)
2. Alisha Turner def. Rebecca Loucks, 3-1 (5-9, 9-7, 9-0, 9-0)
3. Tara Chawla def. Madeline Lurio, 3-2 (9-10, 2-9, 9-7, 9-6, 9-2)
4. Britt Hebden def. Hannah Conant, 3-1 (8-10, 9-1, 9-3, 9-5)
5. Christina Matthias def. Elizabeth Brown, 3-2 (3-9, 4-9, 9-5, 10-8, 9-2)
6. Annie Madeira def. Taylor Tully, 3-1 (9-2, 9-1, 9-5)
7. Emily Goodwin def. Maura Doherty, 3-1 (9-2, 7-9, 9-2, 9-4)
8. Elizabeth Kern def. Elizabeth Weintraub, 3-1 (8-10, 9-2, 9-0, 9-1)
9. Lauralynn Drury def. Taylor Tully, 3-0 (9-1, 9-0, 9-1)