Date Posted:02/18/2002,  8:00AM

Bowdoin Finishes 16th at Howe Cup


by Eileen Schneider

Bowdoin finishes season at #16, picks up some new accessories.

The Lady Polar Bears of Bowdoin went into the Howe Cup ranked #16 in the nation and eighth in Division B. The Bears returned to Brunswick with the same rankings and a slew of new footwear, jewelry, and clothing from the retailers of New Haven.

?I am just really excited about these sandals? exclaimed Sophomore Melissa Miness. ?I am always looking for ways to improve my court coverage and reaction time, and the saleswoman swore that cross-training with flip-flops in a sassy spring print would make the difference.?

While Miness? flips may not find their way outdoors in Maine anytime soon, someone from that northern state was ready to plow through the B- flight?s first round. Bowdoin was set to play their little buddies from Lewiston on Friday morning. The Bowdoin -Bates contest repeated a November scrimmage and two regular season dual matches, the most recent of which was only 9 days prior. Bowdoin had lost the previous matches 2-7 and 1-8, with Katherine Irving ?04 taking 4 and 5 ? game wins over Sarah Persing at the #2 slot in both matches.

Maine Fashions

Friday?s match marked the first time Bowdoin and Bates had met this season with Bowdoin sporting white shirts instead of the preferred black. #4 Sara Kaufman ?02 remarked ?the whole ?bad in black? thing really goes out the window when we don?t actually wear black. It?s been a personal goal this season to summon that intensity while wearing other colors?. Fashion aside, the Polar Bear squashers needed to find focus and depth through the ladder to topple a talented and deep Bobcat lineup. The first round of matches off the courts gave Bates a 2-1 edge, with Bowdoin?s lone win coming from junior Whitney Hodgkins at the #3 spot. Hodgkins? victory avenged a 4 game loss to the same Bates opponent on February 6th.

With the 8, 5, and 2 matches ready to take the courts Bowdoin?s #8, Freshman Elizabeth Davidson, was heard to say ?Just give me a burlap sack and a racquet, I?m here to hit the ball, no frills.? Unfortunately, her pure style was not enough to shut down Bates captain Katie Austin, as Davidson fell in 3.

Number One Showdown

After Bates swept the middle and bottom of the line up attention turned to the number one match between Bowdon Captain Cristin O?Brien and Bates? Captain Aisha Shah. O?Brien?s phenomenal improvement over the year has been evident in her improving matches with Shah. An experienced shot- maker, Shah presents a very different game from O?Brien?s retrieval, depth, and consistency. Ultimately, Shah has prevailed 3-0 in each of their meetings this season, but the crowd at Yale?s ?jewel box? was given a good show when O?Brien pushed Shah to a 10-9 tiebreaker in their first game Friday on the 4-wall glass court. Their second game proved to be another battle of wits, as O?Brien dutifully covered the court and kept pressure on Shah to execute absolutely perfect drops and nics. Bates came away with a 8-1 win, and the unofficial Bowdoin ? Bates ? Colby title. Individual match scores follow:


Saturday -- Another day, another dollar

Fueled by an Italian dinner and the prospect of pocketing Bowdoin?s dinner money, the Polar Bears knew Saturday?s match was their best chance at an upset. The team was inspired by the dinner conversation of Dana Betts, former Bowdoin captain and current world #83. Betts gave the Polar Bears a an ultimatum, saying that she would not return to watch a team match unless Bowdoin earned a berth in the 13/14 playoff at 11:30 Sunday morning instead of the 8:30 slot where the 15/16 battle would take place. In order to sleep in and benefit fron the coaching of Betts, Bowdoin would have to win their Saturday match against #13 Middlebury.

The Bears were confident, remembering a tight 4-5 loss to Midd in January. The Bowdoin line-up had shifted since then with the loss of Junior Lindy Stanley from the #3 spot. However, the girls in black had been working hard to improve on the speed, endurance, and mental tactics that would take them to five game wins if need be. Bowdoin?s new hydration policy also played a critical role in giving the players the extra money in the bank that is needed with long matches.

The first matches completed showed the Panthers taking a 2-1 lead with victories at the 9 and 6 slots. A tough Kara Oppenheim at #9 commented that ?Those three months at the Liz Irving academy have really paid off, the difference is evident in my volley drops and three wall nics, but it looks like we need a new fitness component, because I felt like I was running the beep test out there.? < /p>

Hodgkins again showed why we can call her clutch with a easy 3 game W over Ellie Toan at the third position. The second matches were underway at numbers 8 and 5, and Bowdoin was looking deflated as Sophomore Eileen Schneider fell 2-9 in the first game at the fifth spot and Davidson fell 1-9 at number 8. At the second position, Irving was looking to get back a 4 game loss to Holly Haertel from January, and they battled with promise, Midd taking the first game 9-5. Irving and Schneider continued to battle with their opponents, as Irving volleyed and drove her way to a tiebreaker and Schneider took the second game 9-7.

Bowdoin looked a little happier, as three matches had still not started, Hodgkins had chalked one win, and the two matches on court were turning around. The number two slot?s second game ended in Middlebury taking the tiebreaker 10-8, but Bowdoin?s Irving looked sharp and was playing her best squash of the weekend as she took the courts looking to come back from the 0-2 deficit. The number 5 match was tied up, and Polar Bear Schneider went back on for her 3rd game but could not convert, losing 5-9. By that point, the seventh match in the order was completed, and Middlebury had a 4-1 lead. Bowdoin needed both matches on court and both the #4 and #1 matches waiting in the wings to take the upset and guarantee that 11:30 playing time and an appearance by Dana Betts.

In the third set of the number two match Irving?s consistency and excellent fitness (matched only by her sparkling personality, striking good looks, and impeccable academic record) could not pull Bowdoin to a win over Haertel?s devastating short game. Eileen ?that serve was so low? Schneider was trying to save herself from a 1-2 hole, but was trading point for point with Middlebury?s Beth Seeley at number 5. The premier match was underway to an impressive crowd of spectators lining the court level and overhead gallery of the three glass-wall court. Bowdoin was looking for captain O?Brian to deliver a performance equaling her determination against Bates? Aisha Shah the day before. The number one match would be the sequal to January?s 4-gamer which O?Brien stole from Middlebury?s Sarah Herrup in Williamstown.

O?Brien stormed to a 9-6 first game and satiated the strong Bowdoin contingent watching the match. Schneider was still battling over at the number 5 slot and drew on some of her captain?s energy to take the fourth game 9-2. As Middlebury?s Herrup pulled out a 9-7 win in the second at the number one spot, the number five match-up was going into the fifth game. The #5 players displayed similar attack-then-shoot styles and traded points with no clear moves toward a win. In a sharp contrast, the number one match was all about patience, endurance, and excruciatingly tight rails. Herrup proved unwearied by the fray and took the third game from Bowdoin 9-6.

Middlebury had clinched the match with wins from 6, 7, 8, 9, and at #2, but the Polar Bears still wanted to prove that they belonged in the B division. At the number 5 match, Midd?s Seeley jumped to an 8-6 lead in the fifth, and it looked like Bowdoin was about to be closed out at best 6- 3. A flurry of play led to a trade of three match balls at 8-6, with Schneider finally breaking the cycle 7-8. The run would prove fruitful as Schneider forced a tiebreaker and took it 10-8 without losing serve again.

Bowdoin?s Kaufman took the court at #4 while the number one match still waged on. O?Brien came into her fourth game at number 1 looking to save the match and used that drive to get a quick 9-4 win. As Kaufman fell 9-1 in her first game Bowdoin again looked for a quick decision from the number one court, but Herrup and O?Brien were engaged in a contest of railing and waiting. Kaufman fell in her second game 9-1, but the score was not telling the full story. The number one match continued to be a dogfight as Middlebury extended a small lead to 7-4. O?Brien answered with a quick drop to close it to 7-5, but Herrup won serve again. Middlebury?s lead extended to 8-5, Bowdoin needed to save match point and wage a serious comeback to take the number one slot. But that is exactly what Cristin O?Brien did, making a run up to 9-8. O?Brien lost serve to Herrup as she tied it 9-9 for Midd and served another match ball. Saving that point and winning the next, O?Brien had won one of her best career matches by one point in the tiebreaker.

As the crowd congratulated O?Brien and felt satisfied with Bowdoin?s 3 wins, Kaufman, on court with the #4 match, told them that it wasn?t over yet. Kaufman saved the match and won the third game by a decisive 9-3 margin. Kaufman?s method for the weekend was constant depth and excellent movement, but Middlebury proved too tough in the 4th and took the match.

Saturday afternoon Bowdoin retreated to New Haven?s commercial areas to spend Bowdoin?s meal stipend on things like bottled water, socks, and designer lip balm. A few players even attempted to study for Bowdoin?s grueling mid-term schedule, ensuring that someday soon, Bowdoin will have their first WISA scholar athlete award-winner in over 5 years. In other team news, Melissa Miness ?04 won the competition for the most fun Howe Cup Dinner outfit, which incidentally did not include her new sassy spring-print flip flops. Individual match scores follow :


Sunday -

An early morning wake up knock from Captain Cristin O?Brien ended hours of frozen tossing and turning as Katherine Irving ?04 had stolen my covers around 1:12 am and not returned them until 5:47am, when she awoke to turn up the thermostat.

Bowdoin had an 8:30 match against Wellesley to get to, but had to pack and check out of the Holiday Inn first. This meant no time for the continental breakfast that we had enjoyed so much the previous two days. In Maine, $5.95 can only get you one little packet of Promise margarine- spread, but in New Haven, it was like Christmas in February and the little cups of Promise abounded. By the way, as a service to all the teams of WISA, we did check up on the Trinity team?s diet and noticed a foreboding can of Quaker Oats among their breakfast treats, we figure there has got to be something in there. So, next year, watch out for Bowdoin, we?ve already ordered a case to get started on this spring.

The Bowdoin ? Wellesley match for 15th place started with Whitney Hodgkins? 03 taking her third match of the weekend, dropping only 4 points to leave her undefeated in tournament play. The first round of matches also gave Wellesley a 2-1 lead, with wins at numbers 9 and 6. The second round of play gave the Polar Bears more hope, as they looked to the top five spots to seal a win and an upset over 14th ranked Wellesley. In the second round number 5 Eileen Schneider ?04 won the first game 9- 7 and jumped to the second game 9-4. At the same time classmate and cover-stealer Katherine Irving was split 1-1 after 2 sets at the number two spot. The third sets would bring Wellesley back into the game with Schneider falling 4-9 and Irving 5-9. The Polar Bears continued to battle, but fell at the number 8 and 7 spots. Schneider and Irving could not convert at numbers 5 and 2 respectively, as Schneider fell in 5 games and Irving in 4.

Bowdoin?s number 1 and 4 matches went on court with the only two seniors in the lineup. As their last team matches got underway, Sara Kaufman and Captain Cristin O?Brien were trying to relax and find the good squash that they had been playing all weekend. Both Bowdoin seniors were not afraid to keep a rally going and displayed the fitness they had been working for this season. The Polar Bears were not victorious and the final score was 8-1 Wellesley.

After a few more skirmishes involving van seating and footwear, the Black squash girls trudged off into the rain of New Haven. The Bears went to get some lunch, fight some crime, train a little harder, and come back next season with better shot selection, and even better hair accessories.