By BOB YORK –
It seems as though you can change the calendar … welcome new names and faces … bid adios to the familiar ones and none of it makes any difference. It’s become the circle of life in the world of New England prep school girls squash–the more things change, the more they stay the same.
It’s doubtful you would get an argument from any of the 16 teams that make up the Class A bracket of the New England Independent School Association. When it comes to their annual run for the roses, you can pretty much guarantee who the leader of the pack is going to be: Greenwich Academy. As for who’ll finish a close second, that’s pretty much of a given as well: Deerfield Academy.
This season marked the third consecutive New England Prep School Athletic Council Tournament championship that Greenwich has captured, with Deerfield winding up second. Greenwich’s most recent version of “Catch Me if You Can” found the Big Green coming within a pair of points, 106-104, of grabbing the crown.
Last year saw Deerfield end up on the short end of a 10-point margin, 112-102, to finish second to the Gators, while the 2012 rendition of this rivalry had Greenwich prevailing over Deerfield as well, this time by a 107-102 bulge. Not since 2011 has the order of finish been altered. That was the winter that the Big Green prevailed, capturing the crown by a single point, 109-108.
That one-point victory may have seem like a slim one to Deerfield, but to Greenwich, it must have appeared wider than a mile as it marks the only time since the tourney began following the 1997-98 season that the Gators have failed to win the championship.
This winter, Deerfield had to settle for a double dose of leftovers from the Gators medal menu, as Greenwich made a gold rush to the podium at both the NEPSAC tourney and the U.S. High School Team Squash Tournament. Deerfield, meanwhile, finished second in both events.
“I was proud of the team’s valiant effort to steal the New England Championship title away from Greenwich Academy … this year’s national champions,” said Karinne Heise, the Deerfield girls squash coach. “After a close loss in the finals of the nationals at the beginning of February, the girls worked incredibly hard to prepare for their final rally at the New England tournament and ended up just two points away from the title.”
“Overall, it was an excellent squash season,” said Heise of a campaign in which her charges finished with a pair of silver medals and a 9-0 record through the regular season. “Our strong leadership with co-captains Lindsey Dewey (14) and Addie Fulton (14), along with Carey Danforth (14) and Katie Swindell (14) established great team chemistry and an amazing work ethic.
“One of the highlights of the season was our dual match win over Greenwich Academy, our first head-to-head win over Greenwich in at least a decade,” added Heise. “Another was beating the Baldwin School, the reigning champions of the MASA League in Philadelphia, during the semifinals of the national tournament.”
On the individual front, Deerfield featured two members of its lineup who rang up perfect numbers through both the regular season and tournament outings as Annie Blasberg (16) and Maddie Chai (17) went undefeated start to finish. In addition to going 9-0 during the season, both posted 8-0 records through two tournaments in the sixth and seventh brackets, respectively.
”Their perfect records throughout the season speak to their fierce competitiveness and their poise under pressure,” said Heise.
Three other members of the Big Green Machine also went undefeated during their regular season matches, as Cameron Munn (17), Dewey and Danforth all sported 9-0 marks. Munn put on a blue-ribbon performance in the fifth flight of the New England tourney, but picked up her lone blemish of the campaign at the Nationals, where she lost in the finals.
Dewey wound up second in the fourth flight during both the Nationals and the New Englands, while Danforth, the winner of the Bayne Bowl, placed second in the second flight of the NEPSAC tourney, but went 2-2 at the Nationals. Fulton was second in the third-flight of the New England competition and then lost at the Nationals in the finals. Samantha Chai (15) posted a 6-3 regular-season record, but was ousted in the highly competitive first flight during both tournaments.