By Daniel Wu
No. 6 Stanford (2-2) squash travels to New York this weekend for a trio of top-10 matches headlined by a showdown with reigning national champions No. 1 Harvard (4-0) on Saturday.
The trip begins a grueling road swing for Stanford, who will close out their regular season with six games on the East Coast over two weeks. Also awaiting the Cardinal this weekend are No. 9 Cornell (3-2) and No. 8 Columbia (7-2). With little over a month left until the National Championships, each remaining match carries huge implications for Stanford’s seeding in the postseason playoffs.
The Cardinal will face their toughest competition of the season in the undefeated Crimson, who enter Saturday’s match defending a 16-0 record against Stanford and a preposterous league-wide winning streak that stretches back as far as the 2014-2015 season. Last year, Harvard defeated Stanford twice, most notably in the National Championship semifinals to deny the Cardinal a shot at the championship.
More intrigue than usual surrounds this season’s matchup, however. The Crimson looked startlingly vulnerable in a razor-thin 5-4 victory against No. 3 Princeton last weekend — a shocking result for a team which last season swept their entire schedule without dropping an individual match. The Cardinal, who lost a close match to Princeton in the fall, will face a rare opportunity to steal the upset against a noticeably weakened Crimson squad.
Though favored, Stanford cannot afford to overlook Cornell or Columbia either. In particular, the surging Lions own a hard-fought win over current No. 4 Yale (7-1), and a loss to either team could see the Cardinal lose out in the inevitable reshuffling of rankings prior to the National Championships.
“They’re all good teams,” head coach Mark Talbott said. “There’s a lot of parity this year in women’s squash … I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Stanford opens play against Cornell on Friday at 3 p.m. PT, before taking on Harvard on Saturday at 10:30 am PT and Columbia on Sunday at 10:30 am PT.
Contact Daniel Wu at dwu21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.