After having lost to No. 2 Yale 7-2 in the semifinals the day before, the Tigers faced No. 5 Trinity for third place. Although No. 3 Princeton pushed its opponent, the Tigers were unable to come out on top, ultimately falling 7-2 in the season’s final team match.
The Tigers were without their full lineup, as sophomore Libby Eyre — who generally plays at No. 2 — injured her hand in her match against Yale. Although it is still uncertain exactly what her injury was, Eyre was put in a cast and unable to compete in the final match. This bit of bad luck caused a shift in Princeton’s entire lineup.
“We knew it would be hard since we didn’t have our full lineup,” junior No. 1 Julie Cerullo said. “But we were looking forward to the challenge nonetheless.”
The match was closer than the final score revealed, with four of the nine individual matches going into five games. The Bantams started off strong, winning all of the matches in the first shift. Sophomore Caroline Feeley put up an especially hard fight at No. 9, with two of her five games extending past the 11-point mark.
“There were a few close matches in the first round, but it was tough after we went down the first two shifts,” Cerullo said.
Despite Princeton’s strong effort, Trinity secured the match in the second shift. Junior Casey Cortes won a point for the Tigers at No. 8, but that wasn’t enough as Trinity came out on top at No. 2 and No. 5 to reach the magic number of five victories.
The Bantams also took the majority of the final-shift matches, with the exception of the No. 7 competition, in which freshman Alex Lunt took her opponent to five sets before gaining another win for the Tigers.
“I think we’re definitely a bit disappointed,” Cerullo said. “But given the circumstances, I think we all played well. We can’t really be too upset.”
Earlier in the tournament, the Tigers performed well against Stanford in an 8-1 victory, which included some hard-fought battles. At the No. 2 and No. 3 positions, freshman Nicole Bunyan and senior Katie Giovinazzo went into five games before winning their matches.
After a well-deserved 8-1 quarterfinal victory, Princeton advanced to face Yale in the semifinals. In the first shift, the Bulldogs claimed two early 3-0 victories at the No. 6 and No. 9 spots before Bunyan managed to get Princeton on the board, winning a hard-fought battle at No. 3. Bunyan lost the first and third games against Yale’s Rhetta Nadas but came back to win by securing the last two games 11-6 and 11-7.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, Yale had already clinched the victory by the end of the second shift. Before Giovinazzo swept her opponent at No. 4, giving Princeton the second win of the day, Yale had already picked up five victories.
Harvard beat Trinity in the other half of the semifinals and ultimately prevailed over Yale in the finals, 8-1, winning the national championship. Princeton was one of the only teams to come close to upsetting No. 1 Harvard this season, when its close 5-4 loss to Harvard in January came down to the last match.
“We had a tough season, but toward the end, we had some strong wins that we were pleased with,” Cerullo said. “It didn’t quite go our way, but at the end of the day, we’re just so happy to be on the Princeton team together and to be with the group of girls that we are with.”
Although the Tigers’ last matches of the regular season did not turn out as favorably as they might have liked, they remain optimistic about the women’s individual tournament that begins this weekend on March 2 and hopeful about what they can achieve in the future.
“We always have more to look forward to,” Cerullo said. “Every year changes.”
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/02/27/30105/