Back-to-Back! No. 1 Women's Squash Defends Howe Cup Title in Epic Comeback Over No. 2 Penn, 5-4, in Howe Cup Final

Back-to-Back! No. 1 Women's Squash Defends Howe Cup Title in Epic Comeback Over No. 2 Penn, 5-4, in Howe Cup Final

Harvard captured its 16th national championship (Michael Bello).

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The top-ranked Harvard women's squash team captured its 16th Howe Cup title in program history, completing an epic comeback in the final flight to best No. 2 Penn, 5-4, Sunday afternoon at the Brady Squash Center.

Harvard (13-0, 7-0 Ivy League) took home its 16th national championship after trailing for the first time this season, overcoming an early 3-1 deficit to Penn (14-2, 6-1 Ivy League) and fending off the final two match points to capture its fourth title in six seasons.

With the win, Harvard completed its 12th undefeated season in program history, capping the year with a 13-0 mark.

The Quakers held the upper hand after the opening flight, besting in two five-game victories to hold an early 2-1 advantage. Sue Ann Yong earned the lone win for Harvard in the opening wave, sweeping her opponent at the No. 6 position for her ninth triumph of the season.

Penn kept the momentum on its side to open the second wave, taking the first match to further its lead to 3-1. However, Harvard fought back to tie the match at 3-3 as Kayley Leonard notched her 10th win of the season with a 3-1 win at the No. 2 position and Dileas MacGowan earned a sweep at the No. 8 position for her third win of the tournament.

With the match to be decided in the final flight, Penn took the first match to need just one more win to claim the cup. However, Saumya Karki worked her late-match heroics again, earning a sweep at the No. 6 position to knot the match at four apiece. Karki finished her season as the lone member of the Crimson to post an undefeated record at 12-0.

Sabrina Sobhy and Penn's Reeham Sedky would duel for the decisive point to decide the title. The freshman won the opening game, but Sedky responded to take the second game. Soby answered and shut the door on Penn, winning the next two games to complete the comeback, sealing Harvard its second-straight Howe Cup championship in a 5-4 victory.

With the repeat, the Crimson marks its first back-to-back championship seaons since it took home the titles from 2012-13.

The Gregory Lee '87 and Russell Ball '88 Endowed Coach for Squash at Harvard University Mike Way becomes the fastest coach to earn four Howe Cup titles, accomplishing the feat in just six seasons. With the win, Way also moves into sole possession of fourth on the all-time coaching Howe Cup title list, trailing just former Harvard head coach Bill Doyle and Princeton's Gail Ramsey by one.

Select members of the Crimson will return to the courts next weekend to compete in the CSA Individual Nationals March 4-6 in Stamford, Connecticut.

Results

No. 1 Sabrina Sobhy (H) Reeham Sedky - 3-1

No. 2 Kayley Leonard (H) def. Anaka Alankamony - 3-1

No. 3 Yan Xin Tan def. Alyssa Mehta (H) - 3-2

No. 4 Marie Stephan def. Katherine Tutrone (H) - 3-1

No. 5 Michelle Wong def. Michelle Gemmell (H) - 3-1

No. 6 Sue Ann Yong (H) def. Rowaida Attia Walid - 3-0

No. 7 Saumya Karki (H) def. Haidi Lala - 3-1

No. 8 Dileas MacGowan (H) def. Camille Lanier - 3-0

No. 9 Grace Van Arkel def. Sophie Mehta (H) - 3-2