Drexel Women’s Squash wrapped up a historic season this February with a second place finish at the National Championship– the highest ever finish for the Drexel Dragons. They finished their season with 16 wins, smashing the previous record of 12. Along with the highest win record and highest national ranking, standing at number two, freshman Dina Rosli added her name to the record books by recording a perfect season with a record of 16-0. The team, led by head coach John White and assistant coach Dylan Cunningham, were awarded for their efforts by winning ‘Best Women’s Team’ at the annual Blue and Gold Drexel athletics awards night.
Heading into the National Championships held at Harvard University, the Dragons were ranked sixth, coming up against number three Princeton in the quarter final match. The Dragons had narrowly lost 5-4 to the Princeton Tigers just ten days before in their last match of the regular season. With an early 2-0 deficit, the Dragons had a comeback on their hands. Junior Alina Bushma got the first point on the board with a 3-1 win, closely followed by freshman Noa Romero’s 3-0 win to tie the score at 2-2. Rosli brought the lead to 3-2 with a hard-fought 3-2 win. In a see-saw contest, the Tigers took the next match, tying the score at 3-3. Sophomore Sanya Vats took the fourth point for the Dragons, winning 3-1, and inching ever closer to a historic victory. Freshman Lydia Robinson sealed the victory, winning 3-1, and propelling the Dragons through their first ever victory against the Tigers. Junior Karina Tyma added an additional point on the board with a 3-0 win to solidify the victory to 6-3.
Following the historic win, the Dragons had an even bigger challenge on their hands. Up against number two,Trinity College, in the semi-final match, there was a lot of work to do to overcome their highly-ranked opponents. The match went back and forth between the Dragons and the Bantams, but with wins from senior Brooke Herring, Rosli, Romero and Robinson, the match was tied at 4-4. The fate of the team was in the hands of Bushma, playing at the number two-spot. Bushma lost the first two games 13-15, 9-11, trailing 0-2, but the Dragons refused to back down. In a heroic effort, Bushma took the next two games 11-7, 11-2. On the brink of the biggest win of their career, the Murr Squash Center was packed as the game stood at 4-4, 2-2. Bushma took the fifth and final game 11-5, securing the biggest ever win for the Dragons, along with a spot in the National Championship finals.
The historic win was cheers for all and for co-captain of the squash team Karina Tyma, “I loved every minute competing and supporting in that atmosphere at nationals. I felt as though we all came together as a team and cheered each other on until the last point. I’m extremely proud of the team and how we carried ourselves.”
The women’s squash team finished as national runners-up, eventually losing out to the number one seeds and reigning champions, Harvard, in an 8-1 loss. The sole win came from Rosli, who perfected her 16-0 record for her rookie season. This result proved to be Drexel’s highest ever finish at the Howe Cup, the United States’ largest squash event for women, with the team also scoring the highest season-win record at 16.
Co-captain, Hatti Specter, accredited the hard work on the court and in the strength and conditioning room for the success of the team, saying, “Our success at nationals was the culmination of all of our hard work in practice and lift during the regular season.”
Head coach John White stated, “It was an amazing weekend where all the hard work and dedication from practices showed and paid off for the team. All athletes played their best squash and left everything out on the court. This was the best weekend in our ten years of being a varsity program, and many many more to follow.”
White also won ‘Best Coach’ award at the Blue and Gold awards, a credit to his success with both the men’s and women’s varsity squash programs. The men’s team finished their season as the seventh ranked team in the nation. With the varsity squash program celebrating only its tenth anniversary this year, it’s exciting to imagine what is next for the Dragons. The women’s team will be adding three freshmen onto their roster this fall, ahead of the 2022-23 season, which they will enter ranked at number two.