Nirasha Guruge (pictured) is 8-2 this season (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
PRINCETON, N.J. – The No. 2 Harvard women's squash team will travel to Princeton, N.J. to compete in the CSA National Team Championship this Friday-Sunday. Harvard, the defending CSA national team champion, will compete against seven other schools in the A Division for the 2011 Howe Cup.
Harvard enters the CSA National Team Championship ranked second in the nation after losing a heartbreaker to Yale Feb. 12. The Crimson will open the tournament with a first round match against No. 7 Cornell. Harvard and Big Red will take to the Jadwin Squash Courts on the campus of Princeton Friday at 11:30 a.m. The match will be a rematch of the Jan. 24 meeting of the schools, a contest Harvard won 9-0.
The Crimson suffered its first defeat since the 2008-09 season this past Saturday when No. 2 Yale downed Harvard, 5-4. The loss snapped Harvard's 21-match win streak.
Four Crimson student-athletes, who competed in at least six matches, finished the regular season undefeated. Cece Cortes and Vidya Rajan each earned 10-0 records, while Laura Gemmell went 9-0 and Eliza Calihan played her way to a 6-0 mark.
Natasha Kingshott and Sarah Mumanachit only dropped one match apiece to finish the season with 9-1 records. Nirasha Guruge enters championship weekend with an 8-2 record, while June Tiong is 7-2 in 2011.
The Big Red enters the first round match against Harvard with a 5-5 record this season. After starting the season 1-4, Cornell has recovered to win four of its final five matches. A loss to No. 3 Trinity was sandwiched between wins over No. 8 Dartmouth, No. 11 Williams, No. 9 Brown and No. 23 William Smith.
Jamie Laird entered the season with an individual ranking of No. 16, the highest of any Cornell student-athlete. Jesse Pacheco also cracked the top 30 for the Big Red, coming in at No. 26.
Pacheco played in the No. 1 match during the Jan. 24 meeting of the schools, falling to Gemmell in three sets, while Guruge needed five sets to defeat Laird in the No. 2 match.
The Harvard-Cornell portion of the Howe Cup bracket also features Trinity and No. 6 Stanford. The winner of each match will face each other Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
The other half of the bracket features No. 1 Yale against No. 8 Dartmouth and No. 4 Penn facing No. 5 Princeton. The winner of those Friday afternoon matches will take to the courts Saturday at 2 p.m.
The championship match is slated for 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The complete brackets for all divisions and results of all matches can be found on the College Squash Association site.
Mike Way, the Gregory Lee '87 and Russell Ball '88 Endowed Coach for Squash at Harvard University, sat down with GoCrimson.com to discuss the CSA National Team Championship.