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Women's squash hopes for Howe Cup crown to cap perfect season

The only thing left for the women's squash team to do this season is bring home the Cup – the Howe Cup, that is.

After a remarkable 8-0 season, Princeton cruises into this weekend's national championship event, the Howe Cup Tournament in New Haven, Conn. The Tigers are the No. 1 seed and the main target of the other top seven teams in the country.

Third fiddle

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The Tigers began the season ranked third in the country, following other national powerhouses Harvard and Penn. Princeton lost last year's No. 1 and individual national champion, Katherine Johnson '97, to graduation and was not expected to duplicate last year's second-place finish at the Howe Cup.

However, Johnson's replacement, freshman Julia Beaver, proved to be up to the challenge. Beaver finished up the regular season unbeaten and took first-place in the Constable Invitational Tournament in January.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, illness has caused Beaver to miss practice this week and she is questionable for this weekend.

"I am optimistic," head coach Gail Ramsay said. "Julia's played sick before and toughed it out, so hopefully she'll be ready to go."

Doctor, doctor

Right now, it seems that Beaver's sickness may be the only hurdle on the way to the championship. Princeton plays Williams Friday, a team which the Tigers cruised by during the regular season, 9-0.

The winner of that contest will face the victor of the Dartmouth-Yale matchup, two other teams Princeton swept, 9-0. The finals should pit the Tigers against either No. 2 seeded Harvard or No. 3 Penn.

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Harvard is coming off five consecutive Howe Cup championships, and was again the favorite to win this year at the beginning of the season. The last time Princeton won the Howe Cup was in 1991.

Fahrenheit 451

This year's finals will certainly be hotly contested, no matter who plays. Both Harvard and Penn would like to face the Tigers and get revenge for Princeton's two upset wins.

"It could go either way," Ramsay said. "We need a little luck and be on top of our game."

Junior No. 2 Elise O'Connell and senior No. 3 Missy Wyant will also be a big factor in the Tigers' success. Both are coming off losses to Penn and will play crucial roles in Princeton's expected meeting with either Penn or Harvard in the final.

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"I think we can win down the line in every match," Ramsay said. "We just need to clean up the places we didn't win where we could have won."

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