Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the nation’s longest collegiate winning streak was extended to 173 straight games last night.
Although the No. 1 Trinity Bantams put away the Elis 8-1, the Bulldogs played the 9-time defending national champions close in almost every game at the Brady Squash Center. In a match that seemed to symbolize the whole night, No. 4 Francis Johnson ’09 lost his first two games in heartbreaking fashion, 10-9 and 10-8, before dropping the third by a score of 9-2. Although Johnson’s loss went into the scorebooks as a 3-0 defeat, the match was much closer than the records indicated.
“I think up and down the ladder, we are significantly closer to them and we’re playing them tougher than we ever have since I’ve been here,” Johnson said. “I think that’s something that we can be very proud of and build on.”
Colin Campbell ’09 prevented a shutout by winning 3-0 at the No. 8 spot. It was the first time this year that a Trinity player lost in three games and only the second time that the Bantams have failed to sweep their opponents. The shutout victory, combined with close battles at the other eight spots, will give the Elis plenty to improve upon heading into the final month of the squash season.
“This team is definitely much better than last year’s team,” Todd Ruth ’10 said.
The Bantams, who have not lost a match since 1998, were accompanied by a enthusiastic visiting crowd that traveled to New Haven on subsidized buses. Despite Trinity’s impressive turnout, the home crowd easily outnumbered their Hartford counterparts in one of the most heavily attended squash matches in recent years.
“If you go to Trinity, they have great fans,” Ethan Oetter ’09 said. “But if you look at Harvard and Princeton, they don’t have the fans that we have. These guys are great and this place was packed. It’s even more advantageous than in football. Having the crowd like that is worth two or three points to me.”
The Bulldogs’ passion almost got out of hand. After Johnson’s loss to Vargas, a few Yale fans found themselves in a shouting match with a couple of Trinity supporters. Although the dispute was handled quickly before it could escalate, the episode characterized the intensity on both sides.
“At Trinity, squash is their sport,” Oetter said. “They decided what sport they could compete at with Harvard, Princeton and Yale, and they said squash. They don’t have that many great sports at that school and they’ve thrown the whole school behind [squash].”
Although the loss to Trinity ended the Bulldogs’ undefeated run, the Elis remain positive heading into this weekend’s road trip to Maryland. After playing Navy and George Washington, the team will return home to take on Ivy foes Princeton the following week.
“If we can build on this as we said and move on and continue to work hard and get better, we’re going to be an extremely tough team to beat when it comes to Princeton and Harvard,” Johnson said.