Entering the competition seeded No. 2, Tufts women’s squash emerged from the NESCAC Championship this past weekend as the runners-up to Trinity College in their second straight final. After a hard-fought battle, the No. 1 seed and now 16th consecutive league title holders, the Bantams, were able to secure the win with a 9–0 performance over the Jumbos.
Earlier in the weekend, Tufts took down Colby in the quarterfinals with an equally strong score of 9–0, and then proceeded to best Williams in the semis for their ticket to the finals.
The team had a strong showing in the first round on Saturday with standouts like No. 7 ranked senior Isa Schneider, who pulled out the win against Williams in a rallying score of 7–11, 7–11, 11–9, 11–5 and 11–9. However, it was junior No. 3 Caroline Chin who eventually snagged the win for the ‘Bos against the Ephs with a three-game win of 11–8, 13–11, and 11–2.
Although Tufts fell to Trinity with a heartbreaking 9–0, the match was nothing if not a battle. Schneider impressively battled the Bantams’ Fabiola Cabello at No. 7 in arguably one of the best games this season, coming up just short of a victory at 12–10, 11–8, and 11–6.
Schneider later shared a little more about how this weekend felt to her.
“I think it went really well,” Schneider said. “I’ve been coming back from an injury and just some health problems, so this was my first real hard weekend back, and it went way better than expected.”
The senior member continued to elaborate on the team’s connection and chemistry this season.
“I think we’re pretty good about cheering each other on and supporting each other on [the] court,” Schneider said. “We’re used to how each other plays, and we’re really good at knowing when to motivate each other, and when someone’s down or you finished a match, everyone runs to the other court and is cheering you on.”
Schneider also took a moment to reflect on her season thus far, and how it differs from those of the past.
“It’s weird being the only senior, but it’s also crazy that it’s my last season because COVID cut short part of my career, but it’s been really nice seeing how far it’s come,” Schneider said. “Honestly, the progress that we’ve made has been the best part, just getting to play and keep pushing each level further and further.”
She also continued to share her hopes for the future of Tufts squash both next weekend at the College Squash Association Championship in Philadelphia and beyond.
“I would say that we’re really trying to just take squash to the next level, and we’re all putting in, myself especially, tons of hard work on and off the court to try to see where Tufts can go and hit that top 10,” Schneider said. “We’re going to keep trying to prove people wrong and, myself included, just trying to prove to people that, ‘Hey, we’re here to stay, and Tufts squash is a program to be [reckoned] with.’”
Junior No. 8 Ellyn Xu, who picked up a four-game victory against Williams, also dove a little deeper into the championship weekend.
“This weekend was a really big success for the team. The only other time I think that Tufts has made the finals of NESCACs was last year, so we were really hoping for a repeat of something that happened last year,” Xu said.
Although the outcome was not exactly what the team had hoped for, Xu explained some of the positives that came out of the match against Trinity.
“It was more of us getting to practice before nationals since Trinity is ranked No. 1 in the nation. They were a super good team, and it was super fun to play them, but that one was definitely just one of the more nostalgic matches for us — it was our senior Isa’s last match,” Xu said.
Additionally, Xu opened the door further into being a member of the team itself.
“I think that our team is really unique. We have this word that we’ve coined, it’s called ‘stazzy,’ and that’s exactly how our team is,” Xu said. “We’re honestly probably the weirdest team in the league. We’re so close now that we have our own language of communicating, and we just find each other so funny.”
She also shared the excitement of nationals and the chance to face off against some familiar matchups.
“We’ll be playing Williams again first round, which is going to be a tough match as always, and hopefully we’re able to move on from there and play Dartmouth, who we actually lost to during the regular season even though it actually was really close,” Xu said. “We’re really hoping for a good rematch with them and to push through and move on to the finals after that.”