After losing an epic showdown with Harvard last weekend, the men’s squash team closed its regular season in style, flattening Amherst 9-0 on Monday night.
The Bulldogs (9-2, 5-1 Ivy) end the 2004-2005 regular season as the No. 3 team in the nation. Their only two losses came against No. 2 Harvard and No. 1 Trinity.
Six of the nine Elis who made the trip to Amherst, Mass. swept their matches, and the other three came away with 3-1 victories. The win was especially satisfying because it lifted the team’s spirits after Saturday’s loss.
“The team bounced back with a stellar performance against Amherst,” captain Gavin Cumberbatch ’05 said. “Julian Illingworth [’06] and Nicholas Chirls [’07] had two of the more memorable performances of the night, but the entire team was in fine form [Monday].”
The Elis were heavily favored against the Lord Jeffs, but at No. 14, Amherst was still a worthy opponent. The Bulldogs are hoping to turn this resounding victory into positive momentum as they gear up for the College Squash Association Team Championships (CSAs) in two weeks.
But the Bulldogs know that the remaining time before the CSAs is crucial to the team’s performance.
“Our team needs to try and refocus for two weeks before we return to Cambridge to try and beat Harvard,” Josh Schwartz ’05 said. “At this point, the only way to salvage our season is to beat Harvard and earn a spot in the national championship final. Although we underperformed in the Ivy title match, we feel as if we can still win in the nationals.”
The Elis are expected to face the Cantabs in the semi-final round, as Yale is the third-seeded team and Harvard is the second. The winner of this match will almost undoubtedly face Trinity, a team that has won six national championships in a row. Head coach Dave Talbott is looking forward to the prospect of facing Yale’s archrival again.
“Despite our disappointment against Harvard, we should play them again at the CSAs,” Talbott said. “We are focused to beat Harvard in two weeks. We have an opportunity to avenge our loss and that is our goal.”
If the Elis make it to the CSA Finals, they will most likely face Trinity, a team that has not lost a match since the 1997-98 season. The Bulldogs came painfully close to dealing the Bantams their first loss of the millennium last year, losing by a score of 6-3. But the Trinity squad proved to be tough as ever in 2005, defeating the Bulldogs 8-1. Playing at No. 1, Illingworth gave the Elis their only win, defeating Trinity’s former national individual champion, Bernardo Samper.
The Bulldogs are looking forward to having another shot at defeating the top two teams in the country.
“We are excited to play Harvard and Trinity again,” Cumberbatch said. “After all, we have nothing to lose. So we will continue training as usual right up to the CSA tournament.”