After a lengthy three-week break, the Drexel women’s squash team spent the past weekend preparing for the Women’s National Team Championships in Princeton, N.J.
The Dragons last faced George Washington University Feb. 2, when they were blanked by the No. 9 Colonials, 9-0.
Before that match they were scorching hot, as they had won their previous five matches in a row. After opening the season with a 2-6 record, the team caught fire, winning six of eight to bring its current record to 10-8.
“The women had a great weekend up at the Yale [University] Round Robin, where they won matches against Bowdoin [College], Connecticut College and Wesleyan [University],” head coach John White said when asked about the winning streak. “We have struggled with a few injuries, but the couple of weeks leading up to nationals have given us the time we need to recover and go into nationals strong.
“The girls have been playing a bunch of practice matches and doing a lot of fitness to make sure they are sharp for their first match against Bates [College].”
After the national championships in Princeton, N.J., the women’s team will head off to the individual championships at the University of Pennsylvania, Feb. 28 to March 2.
The men’s squash team, meanwhile, will return home to prepare for the individual championships later this month, after being swept in three fixtures of the Hoehn Cup in Cambridge, Mass., Feb. 14-16.
The silver lining in the defeats was the improvements and adjustments that were made game by game. This was highlighted when the team was named the Most Improved Squash Team of the Year by the Collegiate Squash Association before the matches. In the first game against Columbia University, the Dragons were nearly shut out in an 8-1 loss. They closed the gap in the next game, but ultimately fell to Williams College, 6-3. In the third match, they narrowly lost to the United States Naval Academy by one, with a final score of 5-4.
Coming off those three losses, however, White focused on the positive side of things.
“They achieved their goal of being in the top 16 teams in the country, which is an achievement for a program that is only three years old,” White said of his team. “They won a bunch of matches 5-4, which shows a lot of grit, and that goes a long way considering the team is very young.”
Before the losses, the men’s team was 11-8 and had won five of its last six matches. The weekend sweep dropped them to .500 at 11-11.
When asked his expectations for the women’s team come the championship games, White provided hard facts.
“For women’s nationals, we have a good chance of ending at No. 13 or higher in the country,” he said. “Our first round against Bates College gives us a chance to play the No. 12 team in the country and, depending on how we match up and how the women play that day, we could certainly win.”
He continued to emphasize the theme of improvement for the team.
“This is a no-pressure weekend, as we really focus on our team results. It’s more just good match experience and a chance for the players to see where they stand in the larger pool of college squash.”