No. 2 Harvard Looks to Defend Title at Yale in the CSA Team Championships

No. 2 Harvard Looks to Defend Title at Yale in the CSA Team Championships

Sarah Mumanachit and the rest of the Harvard seniors will be shooting for their third national championship in four years (Gil Talbot). 

Scene Setter
The No. 2 Harvard women's squash team will look to defend its national title, as it heads to the College Squash Association Team National Championships this weekend.

The teams were seeded based off their rankings in the Feb. 10 edition of the CSA Rankings. Harvard enters as the No. 2 seed and will take on the No. 7 seed Stanford in its opening match at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The Crimson will then face either No. 3 Penn or No. 6 Cornell in the second round. In the other half of the bracket, No. 1 Princeton faces Ivy rival No. 8 Brown, and No. 4 Trinity takes on the hosts, No. 5 Yale.

The semifinals will be played at 4 p.m. Saturday, and the championship match is slated for 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last Time Out
Harvard wrapped up the regular season with a 7-2 win over Yale Tuesday night at the Murr Center. The Crimson (12-1, 6-1) jumped out to an early lead before sweeping the second rotation to lock up its third consecutive win against the Bulldogs. In a rematch of last year's CSA Individual National Title match, No. 1 Amanda Sobhy made quick work of Mille Tomlinson, 11-3, 11-4, 11-2, to improve to 7-0 on the year. Tuesday also marked the final home contest for seniors Laura Gemmell, Natasha Kingshott, Sarah Mumanachit and Isabelle Dowling, who finished their careers with a 23-1 mark at the Murr Center.

Related Article: Finishing Strong: No. 2 Women's Squash Beats No. 5 Yale, 7-2, To End Regular Season

Last Year at the CSA National Championships
The Crimson hosted the event inside the Murr Center and walked away with the 13th national title in program history after steamrolling the field. Harvard blanked Dartmouth and Trinity in the opening round and semifinals before topping Yale, 8-1, to reclaim the championship.

Related Article: National Champion: No. 1 Women's Squash Completes Perfect Season with 8-1 Win Over No. 2 Yale
Related Video: Highlights: No. 1 Harvard Women's Squash Wins 2012 CSA National Championship

About No. 2 Harvard
After knocking off Yale, the Crimson enters the championships on a seven-game win streak, looking to win its second straight title and third in the last four years. Laura Gemmell is tied for the team lead in wins with Isabelle Dowling, Natasha Kingshott and Megan Murray, each winning 11 contests on the year. Several other members of the team will have a chance to join the quartet with double digit wins, including Amanda Sobhy (7-0), Saumya Karki (9-1), Haley Mendez (9-1), Sarah Mumanachit (8-2), Julianne Chu (7-1) and Eliza Calihan (8-2).

About No. 7 Stanford (Team Page)
Stanford enters the weekend with a 10-5 record, defeating a trio of Ivy League schools in Dartmouth, Columbia and Brown. The Cardinal's five losses have come at the hands of No. 1 Princeton, No. 3 Penn, No. 4 Trinity, No. 5 Yale and No. 6 Cornell. Stanford blends a mixture of experience and youth in its lineup for the three-day event with three seniors, one junior, four sophomores and three freshmen in its top 11.

Series History Against The Cardinal
Harvard leads the all-time series against Stanford, 8-0, since the two teams first met in 2007. The Crimson toppled Stanford, 6-3, in its season-opening win last year at Williams to began its 22-game winning streak overall.

Gunning For That No. 1 Spot
Since the start of the 2009-10 season, Harvard has not been beaten at the No. 1 position in team play. The Crimson is 55-0 at the position in the last four years. Senior Laura Gemmell leads the way with 31 of those wins, while sophomore Amanda Sobhy is second with 17. Nirasha Guruge (five wins), Haley Mendez (one win) and Saumya Karki (one win) have also recorded wins in the position during the span.

Zero Success
Harvard has shutout Boston College, Dartmouth, Williams, Bates, Amherst, Hamilton, Columbia and Cornell in 2012-13. Harvard started the year by blanking its first four opponents for the fourth time in school history to fall just shy of the program record for consecutive shutouts to start a season of six, accomplished by the 2010-11 squad. The program record for shutouts in a season is 10, set by last year's team, which leaves the Crimson within striking distance, needing two to tie the mark.

National Champions
After winning last year's national title, Harvard has now won 13 in its storied existence, the second most all-time, trailing only this year's No. 1 Princeton. Below is a complete list of national champions.

Previous Women's Squash National Champions
Princeton – 17 (Last: 2009)
Harvard – 13 (2012)
Yale – 7 (2011)
Trinity – 2 (2003) 
Penn – 1 (2000)

Coach's View
Assistant coach Luke Hammond is now blogging to give fans an inside perspective of the Harvard men's and women's squash teams. The blog will be periodically updated throughout the season, recapping the latest results and highlighting other interesting tidbits about the squad.

Related Link: Harvard Squash Blog 

Leading the Way
Mike Way, The Gregory Lee '87 and Russell Ball '88 Endowed Coach for Squash at Harvard University, returns for his third season. In just over two years in Cambridge, his women's teams have gone a combined 40-3 (.930), including last year's 17-0 mark. Assistants Reg Schonborn and Luke Hammond return for the 2012-13 season.

Up Next
Harvard heads to New Haven, Conn., for the College Squash Association Team Championships Feb. 15-17.