By the time the third shift of matches finished up on the squash courts Saturday, the women had already clinched their eventual 8-1 victory over Williams and the men were too far behind to come back, ultimately falling 6-3 to the Ephs.
No one could have known the players were aware of that, though, as several fought through five setters with just as much fury as their teammates before.
“Anytime you’re within three or four ranking spots of another team it can always go either way,” said head coach Wendy Lawrence. “The overall match score could have been a lot closer than it was.”
The No. 7 women’s team pulled out key five set matches at the bottom of the ladder against their No. 12 counterparts from Williams. No. 9 Alexa Tzarnas played in the first flight of matches where GW went up 3-0, winning 10-12, 11-2, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8.
Freshman Abby Shonrock came back from two-love down in the No. 8 spot, saving a match point in the fourth set at 10-11 by showing off her short game and tapping the ball softly out of her opponents reach. Once she’d forced the fifth set momentum was on her side and Shonrock took care of the final frame 11-5.
“It’s hard to come back when you’re losing,” No. 1 Anna Gabriela Porras said. “She really started attacking more and just being in control of the game.”
Shonrock is now tied with junior Eunice Tan for the team lead in wins with five each. Tan swept her match in the No. 4 spot with set scores of 11-3, 11-6, 11-0.
Anna Porras, No. 6 Lindsey Dewey and No. 7 Emely Levyn also picked up straight set wins. Porras’ set scores were 11-8, 11-2, 11-3, Dewey’s 11-8, 11-7, 11-9 and Levyn’s 11-4, 11-7, 11-6.
Nos. 2 and 3 Breanne Flynn and Alejandra Porras both started strong, had lapses in intensity in middle sets, but won in four. Flynn’s set scores were 11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9. Alejandra Porras nearly swept her match, saving two match points in the third with a two set lead 11-1 and 11-9, but misfired low to drop the set 11-13. She roared back in the fourth 11-3 after winning the first nine points of the set.
“[Williams is] trained to be very consistent and sort of steady. They rely on their fitness, they don’t have a lot of shot makers on their team, they don’t move the ball around a lot. I think our advantage was that we have some people with, I think our touch, our short game was better than theirs today but they’re very consistent,” Lawrence said.
The only loss of the day came in the No. 5 spot where Mehak Chawla dropped her match in five, 14-16, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7.
The No. 17 men’s team had more trouble with the No. 13 Williams men but nearly every match was close.
“They played some very good squash where they lost out at the end,” assistant coach Brian O’Hora said. “I don’t think some of our guys defended enough and as a result did a little too much work and got a little on the tired side.”
The Colonials split the two tightest matches of the day, with No. 3 Nicolas Valderrama losing in five at the No. 3 spot and James Reiss grabbing the 3-2 victory at No. 4.
Valderrama came back from a set down twice but couldn’t hang on in the fifth, losing 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 7-11, 12-10, smashing his racquet in half in frustration.
Reiss also trailed twice, but got an overtime win in the fifth set at 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-1, 15-13.
“I think he felt a little confident after he was up so I was able to battle back,” Reiss said. “It came down to overtime in the fifth game and he had a couple match points but I hit a couple of lucky shots and had some good winners so I was really happy to get the win.”
No. 1 Mason Ripka lost in five after winning his first two sets. He nearly pulled it out in the fourth but fell 12-10 after a couple of balls went too low. Final set scores were 7-11, 8-11, 11-3, 12-10, 11-7.
Billy Berner and Josh Marks both nearly rallied from a 2-0 deficit to push five, but lost the final sets in the Nos. 6 and 7 spots. Berner’s set scores were 11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-2 and Marks’ were 14-12, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-4.
Freshman Oisin Logan had a faster time in the No. 2 spot, winning 3-1 with set scores of 11-6, 7-11, 11-5, 11-8. Freshman John Bassett also won in four at No. 8 on the ladder, 12-10, 6-11, 11-4, 11-4.
The only sweep of the day came at the Colonials expense as Omar Mussehl fell 11-9, 11-8, 11-3 at No. 9.
The only other match that didn’t go to five nearly did, as junior Reid Breck pushed overtime in the deciding set of his 3-1 loss at No. 5. Down 7-9, Breck won back to back points to pull even. His opponent took a 10-9 lead, then he evened at 10 all. He bent over exhausted after losing the next point, Williams’ Galen Squires playing a more conservative game than Breck, who appeared a better shot maker but had to work harder for his hits.
“He’s an aggressive player and he always tends to have five setters…and then come back but unfortunately it didn’t happen today,” O’Hora said. “He’s gutsy.”
Eventually it was too much, Squires got the two points in a row that he needed and won the set 15-13. Earlier set scores were 3-11, 11-1, 11-8.
The men’s team is now 8-4 following a Sunday morning win at Middlebury and is looking at a five game home stretch before the Collegiate Squash Association Nationals.