Princeton, N.J. - First-year Anna Kimberley (Essex, England) won the deciding match, breaking a 4-4 tie with a 3-1 win in the No. 4 match, to lead the Trinity College Bantams to a 5-4 victory over the Harvard University Crimson in the College Squash Association (CSA) National Team Championship (Howe Cup) Finals this afternoon at Princeton University's Jadwin Courts. Trinity wins its third national title and its first since taking the Howe Cup in back-to-back years in 2002 and 2003, and closes with a 16-1 record. The Bantams defeat Harvard for the first time since 2008, snapping a nine-match losing streak against the Crimson, and avenge 5-4 setbacks to them in both the 2013 Howe Cup Finals and in the teams' regular-season match at Trinity on February 4. Harvard ends up with a 14-1 mark, losing for the the first time since a 5-4 defeat at Princeton on January 13, 2013.
"This is incredible," said Trinity Head Coach Wendy Bartlett. "It has been a long time, 11 years since we won this, but we knew this was going to be our year. The girls worked very hard. My heart and my stomach were up and down up and down, but these girls wanted it. They really did. Anna is incredible. She came in here as a first-year, went undefeated, and won the final match for a National Championship. "
With the score tied after two straight Harvard wins, Kimberley rebounded from a first-game loss to Crimson sophomore Saumya Karki to take the next three games including an 11-9 victory in the fourth that was followed by a spirited celebration by her teammates and the Trinity fans. Dileas McGowan had outlasted Trinity sophomore Sachika Balvani (Mumbai, India), 3-2, to tie it at 4-all after Amanda Sobhy had taken the No. 1 match, 3-0, for the Crimson.
Harvard led, 2-0, in the early going, as Katie Tutrone and Megan Murray posted 3-1 wins at No. 3 and No. 9, respectively. Junior Natalie Babjukova (Prague, Czech Republic) got the Bantams on the board in dramatic fashion, taking a 2-0 lead over Julianne Chu in the No. 6 match, losing the next two games by 11-6 scores, and rallying for an 11-6 victory in the fifth game.
"This feels amazing, said Babjukova. "It was our goal from the beginning of the year, so we are just the happiest people in the world right now."
Babjukova's win was followed by three consecutive Bantam wins, beginning with a 3-1 victory by senior co-captain No. 2 Catalina Pelaez (Bogota, Colombia) over Haley Mendez to give Pelaez a flawless 15-0 record for the year. Classmate Jennifer Pelletier (Richmond Hill, Ontario) came back from a 2-1 deficit to post a 3-2 win at No. 8, and junior Ashley Tidman (Lamor-Plage, France) made a gutsy comeback from two games down to win, 3-2, at No. 5 for a 4-2 Bantam lead after two waves. Pelaez was honored as the Howe Cup Championship MVP for her outstanding performance in the three-day affair.
"When we won it, it was just a big release," said Kimberley. "I knew she (Karki) was going be tough to beat. She really stepped up today. The whole Harvard team played us tough. This is just the best feeling, such an amazing feeling."
1. H- Amanda Sobhy d. Kanzy El Defrawy, 11-9, 11-5, 11-3
2. TC- Catalina Pelaez d. Haley Mendez, 11-5, 4-11, 11-8, 11-4
3. H- Katie Tutrone d. Wee Nee Low, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-3
4. TC- Anna Kimberley d. Saumya Karki, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9
5. TC- Ashley Tidman d. Michelle Gemmell, 10-12, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-4
6. TC- Natalie Babjukova d. Julianne Chu, 11-6, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-6
7. H- Dileas McGowan d. Sachika Balvani, 11-13, 14-12, 7-11, 11-4, 11-6
8. TC- Jennifer Pelletier d. Isabelle Downing, 10-12, 11-4, 10-12, 11-4, 11-6
9. H- Megan Murray d. Chanel Erasmus, 11-7, 10-12, 12-10, 11-5
Trinity (Conn.) 5, Harvard 4