By Daniel Wu
No. 5 Stanford squash (4-3) returns to the road this weekend to conclude its regular season with a critical series of matches against No. 14 George Washington (4-8), No. 4 Yale (8-1) and No. 2 Trinity (9-1) in New Haven.
The Cardinal will enter their final series of matches with everything to play for. After a season defined by remarkable parity and narrow victories, the Cardinal’s performances against Yale and Trinity could be decisive in sorting out the postseason seedings for a chaotic top eight of closely matched teams.
Traveling for the second consecutive weekend, Stanford returns east with many positives to take from last week’s matches in New York. Though the Cardinal were unable to topple defending champions Harvard in an 8-1 loss, they held their ground to dispatch Cornell 8-1 and capped off the weekend by edging Columbia in a tense 5-4 struggle.
The Cardinal showed their grit in besting an upstart Lions squad that owns a win against upcoming opponent Yale. Senior captain Casey Wong came through a tough 3-1 win in front of the Columbia crowd to clinch the match at the No. 2 seed.
There will be little margin for error for Stanford this weekend, however, as chaos continues to reign among the top women’s squash teams. Yale’s 5-4 victory over Trinity on Wednesday was the latest upset to rock the rankings, leaving Yale, Stanford, No. 6 Drexel, No. 7 Columbia and No. 8 Penn in a deadlock with few matches remaining to separate them. Each match but one between the five teams has been decided by a 5-4 margin, including the Cardinal’s 5-4 wins against Penn and Columbia and their 4-5 loss to Drexel.
Stanford will likely face a must-win scenario against Yale on Saturday if the team hopes to secure a top-four seeding for the National Championships and bolster its chances of improving upon last year’s third-place finish.
The high stakes are fitting for a matchup against an opponent that has become Stanford’s preeminent rival in college squash, fueled by a heated sibling rivalry. Stanford head coach Mark Talbott, who previously coached the Bulldogs, will face his older brother, Yale head coach Dave Talbott. Last year, Stanford defeated Yale in a raucous Arrillaga home game before repeating the win at the National Championships.
Despite the stakes, Talbott was positive heading into the weekend. “It’s going to be fun, of course, playing my brother,” he said. “He hates losing to his younger brother’s team.”
Contact Daniel Wu at dwu21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.