PRINCETON, N.J. - At this time of the year, the motto of women's squash becomes "survive and advance." On Saturday, the Penn women's squash team did just that, defeating Trinity in the Howe Cup semifinals, 5-4.
The Quakers were playing without their usual No. 2 player, Alisha Turner. As a result, most of the Quaker lineup was forced to play a spot up from their normal spots on the ladder. Turner, who retired from her match Friday with Stanford due to a knee injury, had to sit out Saturday's match as a result of the injury.
"Alisha couldn't get out on the court, but she was a great coach," said senior co-captain Lauralynn Drury. "She was able to see a lot of things that we can't see on the court, and she was great encouragement for us."
Senior co-captain Elizabeth Kern echoed those sentiments.
"We are always behind each other, and to have that type of support day in and day out at practice and at matches really comes through in situations like today."
Freshman Annie Madeira got the Quakers off to a good start when she grabbed a 3-1 victory at No. 6. Kern, playing at No. 9, gave the Quakers a 2-1 lead after the first flight when she completed a 3-0 triumph.
"As a captain and as first shift, I obviously wanted to help set the tone," Kern said. "I just wanted to be on my toes and be excited and hit the shots I wanted to hit, and I knew that if I did that, the match would turn out the way I wanted it to."
Playing at No. 2, Sydney Scott rebounded from an early 1-0 deficit to secure a 3-1 victory. At No. 8, Drury won her first game and dropped the second before bearing down and taking games three and four to win her match, 3-1. With six of the nine matches down, the Quakers had a commanding lead.
Kristen Lange, the Quakers' No. 1 player and the second-ranked player in the country, quickly made sure that there would be no upset on this day. She won a 3-0 decision seemingly without working up a sweat, clinching the overall victory for Penn and ensuring that they would advance to the finals.
"This shows how hard we worked," Drury said of the Quakers advancing to the finals. "I'm really excited for everyone going into tomorrow."
Head coach Jack Wyant was very excited for his team, knowing that many of his players had to step up a spot above normal to get this victory.
"I am just so proud of them," Wyant said. "To come out and beat a team as good as Trinityshowed a lot of heart and a lot of character. I'm really excited for them that they are going to get a chance to prove themselves again in the final tomorrow."
With one match left in the season win or lose, many of the Quakers seemed a little sorry to see this season drawing to a close.
"Getting to the finals is an amazing feat for us," Kern said. "This has been such an unbelievable season. It'sa very special thing for our team to say that we are in the finals of the national tournament."