Women’s squash slays competition to win Epps national tournament

Colby’s results after a weekend of competition at the Epps National Squash Tournament could not have been more remarkable; the Colby Women’s Squash team captured their first national tournament title in dominating fashion, winning matches against rivals Bucknell, Mount Holyoke, and Hamilton with scores of 9-0, 8-1, and 8-1 respectively.

With a national ranking of 25, the women’s squash team qualified to compete in the Epps Cup, a national team tournament hosted at Princeton for programs ranked numbers 25 through 32. Coming into the tournament, star first-year and current second-seed player Madiha Molani remarked that “We were all really motivated to end the season on top because we had worked so hard for the last five months… In the first round against Bucknell, our goal was really to start out the tournament right—and we did just that.”

The team thoroughly dominated Bucknell. Top-seed and first-team All-NESCAC selection Devin Mullaney ’18 led the way for the Mules with a 11-1, 11-6, and 11-2 victory and every Colby player down the ladder secured victories as well. On Saturday, against Mount Holyoke, Colby dominated, winning the matchup by a score of 8-1. The championship against NESCAC rival Hamilton on Sunday was seemingly the most difficult matchup yet for Colby.

“Before the tournament started, we knew that Hamilton and Wellesley were going to be some of the tougher opponents,” Molani said. “We couldn’t really predict which of those teams were going to make it to the finals, as they were seeded two and three respectively. We’ve played both of them earlier in the season—beating Hamilton 5-4 while missing two of the girls in our ladder to injury—and beating Wellesley the second time we played them, so we were still confident going into the finals. We did know that we had to take the team that made the finals seriously, because matches can really go either way depending on the line up and if someone is having an off day.”

However, the team would prove up to the challenge, throttling Hamilton by a score of 8-1. Mullaney won her 39th career match, Molani won her 13th match of the season while playing in the second position, Julianna Song ’20 would improve to a 15-10 record on the year, Olivia Silverman ’19 won at the fourth spot, Caroline Pelham ’17 won at six, Lily Wain ’19 got her 22nd win of the year from the seventh position, and Ren Robinson ’17 and Elise O’Brien ’18 caped off team domination from the eighth and ninth spots respectively. Cricket di-Galoma ’18 had the lone loss of the day in the fifth position.

When asked about what motivated the entire team to come up with such a dominating performance to close out the year, Madiha said, “Overall, I think it was the motivation from each of us individually to finish the season with a huge victory that led us to the 8-1 win in the finals. This year was especially historic because it is the first year in Colby Squash history that the Mules have won a national title. It is really great to be a part of that, especially as a freshman.”

While the season is over for most of the team, Madiha has advanced to play at the CSA Singles Championship at Dartmouth next weekend. Many of the top ranked collegiate squash players from across the globe will be at the tournament, and Molani said, “It’s a lot of pressure as a freshman—and as someone with a lot of injuries, but it’ll be a really great opportunity to both play and watch high-level squash and will be a great chance to prove to myself that I’ve improved over the last five months and be proud of my first year as a member of the Colby Squash Team.”