Thanks to its win over Harvard last Wednesday, the men’s squash team got its wish at the National Intercollegiate Squash Racquet Association team championships this past weekend — a potential rematch with Ivy League champion Princeton and a crack at the national title.
The Bulldogs started off their weekend in fine form, cruising to an 8-1 win over Dartmouth. In the highly anticipated Yale-Princeton rematch, though, the Bulldogs fought hard but eventually fell 5-4 to the Tigers — the same result as Yale’s regular season loss to Princeton. The Bulldogs couldn’t quite regroup from Saturday’s devastating defeat and fell to Harvard 8-1 Sunday, finishing fourth.
“It was definitely a very disappointing weekend for us,” said Joshua Schwartz ’05, who played No. 3. “Our entire focus was to beat Princeton, and when we lost we did not rebound well and refocus for Sunday’s match with Harvard.”
Coach David Talbott echoed Schwartz’s sentiments.
“We did everything we could to set up a rematch with Princeton and a potential national championship against Trinity,” Talbott said. “But we could not quite pull it out.”
After No. 6 Aftab Mathur ’03, No. 7 Gavin Cumberbatch ’05, No. 8 Albert McCrery ’04, and No. 9 Alex Ende ’04 won the bottom four matches it looked like the Bulldogs just might pull off the upset against Princeton.
Going into the match, the Elis’ gameplan hinged on stealing one of the top five spots. But the Bulldogs let a number of golden opportunities for an upset slip through their fingers as Princeton claimed victory in all five early matches.
Team captain Peter Grote lost in three games at No. 2 but hung close, losing the first two games 11-9 and 10-8. Then at No. 3, Schwartz was tied 7-7 in the first two games but could not quite gain the upper hand as he lost in straight games.
Yale’s best chance was No. 1 Anshul Manchanda ’04, who was tied 1-1 after two games. Manchanda then lost a tight third game 9-7 before falling in four games.
After the devastating loss to Princeton, the Bulldogs deflated and fell easily to a Harvard squad they beat less than a week ago. McCrery notched the lone Eli win.
“There was a complete meltdown throughout the team,” described No. 4 Ryan Byrnes. “After beating them soundly just four days before it was a lackluster showing to say the least.”
While disheartened that they dropped to fourth in the nation, the Bulldogs exceeded pre-season expectations with their second place finish in the Ivy League and came out of the team championships with confidence for next year.
“Despite the disappointment, I still thought that we had a lot of positive things to build on from the matches,” said Schwartz. “Beating Harvard was huge for our program and is something positive we can build on.”