Women's Squash | Tufts heads into NESCACs after win over BC
Published: Friday, January 31, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014 03:01
In its last match before the NESCAC tournament, the No. 25 women’s squash team added another victory on Wednesday over the No. 30 Boston College at Boston College in a close 5-4 match. The victory comes on the heels of another 5-4 win against Conn. College last Saturday.
Tufts had previously played Boston College in November and won by the same margin. Despite being the underdogs (at the time, the Eagles were ranked 28th, while the Jumbos were 32nd) and also missing their top player, sophomore Paget Stanco, Tufts was able to pull through.
“Both were really close matches,” sophomore Sophie Laing said. “Going into this game, we knew that it was going to be really tough, but I think that got us really excited to take them on again. Winning 5-4 was awesome.”
“Our lineup was completely different in the fall as it was in the spring,” junior captain Ann Bellinger said. “In the fall we were missing two of our key players.”
Junior Paige Dahlman, who was abroad in the fall, and Stanco, who was unable to attend the match, left the team undermanned the first time around.
For this match against the Eagles, two players were absent once again. The original lineup was announced well in advance; however, closer to the match, there was a hiccup when the players in the sixth and seventh spots could no longer attend. Senior Caroline Howe was sick, and sophomore Tammara Gary had a prior commitment, leaving the team shorthanded and forcing the player who normally plays in the 8th spot to move up to the No. 6 spot.
“It’s hard even when one person is missing, but I had the confidence that we could go out there and win,” Bellinger explained.
Despite the slight setback, the team was able to hunker down and focus on what they set out to do.
“It was a lot of people playing different positions,” Laing said. “It was definitely a completely different match than it was in the fall. [But] it was the same intensity-wise.”
The top five Jumbos won their matches, while the bottom four lost theirs.
“I think people ... did what they needed to do,” Bellinger said. “Overall, we could have played better, but I am not unhappy. I think the score reflects our team. When they need to pull it together they are able to pull it together, and people get the job done.”
Dahlman, Bellinger and freshman Anna Bezahler, who played positions two, three and four, respectively, trounced the Eagles in just three games. Freshman Lynn Cheng, at the No. 5 spot, won her match in four games, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8. Stanco won at the No. 1 spot and had the longest match of the night, finishing in five games, 11-8, 11-4, 5-11, 4-11, 11-6.
“After winning the first two games, I started to take the pressure off of my opponent and she jumped all over it,” Stanco said. “The third and fourth games were pretty rough and definitely some messy squash, but when [I was] down in the fifth, I knew I could not lose to a girl I had beaten so easily in the earlier games.”
To refocus, Stanco stopped in the middle of the game to fix her shoes, which proved to be successful, as she won every point after that.
With this win, the Jumbos end with a record of 8-8 for the season. Although it has been somewhat rocky, filled with ups and downs, the team is using this win to boost their spirits going into the conference tournament this weekend.
The team left yesterday for NESCACs at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y.
“I think it’s definitely exciting to go into a big competitive weekend with a win behind us,” Laing said. “It gives us a lot of momentum going forward and we’re excited.”
10th-seeded Tufts will take on seventh-seeded Bowdoin for their first match of the weekend. Tufts fell to Bowdoin in the fall season, 9-0, but the Jumbos aren’t worried, as they have won five of their last seven matches.
“I think we did a good job [on Wednesday] of starting strong, [which is] something we’ve really struggled with in the last few matches,” Bellinger said. “We need to carry that into this weekend ... We have very important matches this weekend at NESCAC’s, and it’s important we go out there with our heads right and start strong because squash is such a mental game.”