The women's squash team may be hoping to "three-peat" this weekend as national champions, but what Princeton specifically wishes for is a repeat of its performance at last year's Howe Cup, the tournament that determines the national champion.
Last year, the Tigers lost in the regular season to Harvard, which took the Ivy League title. Going into the Howe Cup, Princeton was seeded No. 2, but the Tigers defeated the Crimson in the finals to repeat as national champs.
This weekend in New Haven, Conn., the Tigers (9-1 overall, 5-1 Ivy League) face a similar situation, but with No. 1 Penn playing the role of favorite. Despite the lower seeding, Princeton has no doubts about its goal.
"We want to win," sophomore No. 7 Courtenay Green said.
The Tigers relish the idea of avenging their one loss this season — which was to Penn — and winning the national title.
"I like going into a tournament as an underdog," junior No. 1 Julia Beaver said. "I think we rose to the challenge last year and can do it again."
Wednesday night at Jadwin Gym, the Tigers helped their draw for this weekend by defeating Trinity, 7-2. The victory secured them the No. 2 seeding at the Howe Cup.
The win was a decisive one. After only six matches, Princeton had already clinched the victory, and the Tigers only dropped one more match during the night.
Although Trinity and Princeton were fighting for the No. 2 seed, each team having only lost to Penn, the Tigers proved to be the dominant squad.
Princeton's two losses went to five games, while only one of its wins needed more than three. The Tigers had wins at the top four and the bottom three spots of their nine-person lineup.
"People all through our lineup won today," senior captain and No. 2 Blair Irwin said. "We are not just strong. We're also very deep, which gives us a great shot at winning this weekend."
The result of Wednesday's match was not only important for the Tigers' confidence, but it also gave them an easier ride at the Howe Cup.
This afternoon, Princeton will face Brown in the first round of the tournament. If the results follow the seedings and No. 3 Trinity defeats No. 6 Yale, the Tigers and Trinity will match up again Saturday in the semifinals.
"We will have to come out strong this weekend," head coach Gail Ramsay said. "It's always harder to focus when you just played someone."
Despite their easy victory against Trinity, the Tigers recognize that the "three-peat" they are hoping for will not come easily. In past years, there have been two teams who were the biggest contenders for the Howe Cup. This year, however, the field as a whole is much stronger.
"The top four teams are all good, so it could be any of us," freshman No. 9 Rebecca Gutner said. "It's been really competitive this year."
Princeton is hoping to avenge its solitary loss this year, which was a close match dropped to Penn. The Quakers are seeded No. 1 and are undefeated on the season.
"Our toughest match will be against Penn, but it would be the ultimate success to defeat them for the national championship after having lost to them in the regular season," senior captain and No. 4 Liz Kelly said.
"It's not that often that Princetonians get a chance at a national title," Irwin said. "I want this team to win. We lost a lot of people last year, and I want all of these girls to have the rings and memories that come with a championship."