Sports

Squash edges Franklin and Marshall for podium spot

Bruno falls to Cardinal in Kurtz Cup competition, taking third place in B Bracket championship play

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The women’s squash team captured the third place title at the Kurtz Cup last weekend, defeating Franklin and Marshall (9-9) in the first round before falling to Stanford (4-9), which knocked the Bears out of contention for the title. Bruno (7-9) downed Williams (15-10) Sunday in the third place match.

“Our goal was to actually win the Kurtz Cup,” said Quincy Beck ’18, Bruno’s number one player. “We had a close match with Stanford in the semifinals, and a few of the girls played some of the best squash I’ve ever seen them play. It was a great match, and we did everything we could, but we just couldn’t pull it out.”

The Kurtz Cup is the women’s national team championship for the B bracket of college squash. Of Ivy teams, only Brown and Dartmouth (8-8) were represented in the B Division, while the rest of Bruno’s conference foes faced off for the Howe Cup in the A Division.

Heading into the tournament, the Bears were ranked 11th nationally, which translated to a third-seed placement in the B Division. In the first round, Bruno squared off with Franklin and Marshall Friday at noon. While Bruno’s top three players recorded losses, the bottom six all notched wins to carry the Bears over the Diplomats 6-3.

Bruno’s top three all faced rivals with higher ratings than them, while the next six out-rated and outplayed their opponents, a testament to the depth of the Brown squad. Earning wins were Mina Shakarshy ’15, Isabel Scherl ’17, Katherine Elliot-Moskwa ‘15, Skylar Murphy ’16, Isabel Pitaro ’16 and Alexandra White ’15.

The ratings are calculated algorithmically in order to rank players relative to one another. The difference between the ratings of Bruno’s first and last player is approximately .4551, while the distance between the top and bottom of Franklin and Marshall’s roster is about 1.05. On Friday, the top-heavy team fell to the more balanced and uniformly competitive team.

“Everyone played well against F and M,” Shakarshy said. “The pressure was on our team because we are more highly ranked, while F and M had nothing to lose. There was definitely some nervous energy because of that, but I’m proud to say that everyone was able to refocus and put their nerves aside to ultimately win the match.”

The Bears advanced to face Stanford in the semifinals Saturday. On Jan. 31 — the last time the two teams faced off — the Cardinal grabbed a close 5-4 victory over Bruno. But the Bears could not keep it so close this time, dropping a 6-3 decision. Elliot-Moskwa, Murphy and White earned wins for the Bears. It took both Murphy and Elliot-Moskwa five games to do so, while White finished off her opponent in only three games. Stanford, which entered the tournament in the eighth seed of the division, continued to pull off the upset and earn the top title with a defeat of Dartmouth.

The loss pushed Bruno into the third place game Sunday against Williams, another familiar rival. The Bears faced the Ephs as recently as Jan. 30, when they exacted a 7-2 win over their non-Ivy foe. History repeated itself as Bruno picked up another 7-2 win over Williams, earning a third place finish in the national tournament.

While the Kurtz Cup marked the end of the season for team, select players will compete at the College Squash Association Individual National Championship. Beck will be away in Canada competing in another tournament, but Emily Richmond ’16, Hannah Hay-Smith ’17 and Shakarshy — Bruno’s two through four seeds — will take part in the individual championships.

“They’ll have some great matches, and I think they’ll do really well,” Beck said. Shakarshy “is a senior, so this is her last tournament with the team, so I’m really excited for her,” she added.

“I’m definitely already nostalgic,” Shakarshy said. “I know that I will continue to play and maybe even compete in the future, but there was something really special about playing with this team.”

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