With a week to go before the showdown against Princeton, the men’s squash team took care of business against Navy on Saturday.
The No. 4 Elis (9-1, 2-0 Ivy) swept the No. 10 Midshipmen, 9-0, in Maryland, posting their fifth sweep of the season. Yale rested three players from its usual starting lineup, allowing younger players, including Michael Maruca ’11 and Rusty Feldman ’10, to take their turns in the top nine.
Although Navy was playing without its No. 1 player, the team still put up a spirited fight against the Bulldogs. Todd Ruth ’10 was pushed to five games by Navy’s Allan Lutz at the No. 3 spot, and Francis Johnson ’09 dropped his first game, 2-9, before winning, 10-8, 9-2 and 9-3, at the No. 2 spot.
“Against a team like Navy that’s not very strong, it’s tough to get fired up for them,” Johnson said. “But it’s good to get a win going into Princeton. It’s like an age-old tradition — Yale vs. Navy — and it’s cool to be a part of that.”
After beating Penn, 5-4, to start the season, the Bulldogs have beaten all of their opponents to date, with the exception of Trinity, either 9-0 or 8-1. The Elis’ impressive string of victories includes an 8-1 win over No. 9 Cornell and a 9-0 defeat of No. 6 Dartmouth.
“There really wasn’t a whole lot to gain from beating Navy,” Ethan Oetter ’09 said. “It was really just continuing what we have been doing all along this season.”
For John Fulham ’11, the trip to Annapolis was a story of what could have been. Fulham, who had strongly considered attending the Naval Academy before deciding on Yale, recently signed a reserve contract with the Marine Corps. Fulham will spend his summers training at Parris Island in South Carolina but will only begin active duty after graduation.
“You have to think in your mind, ‘What if?’ But that’s what it is,” Fulham said. “I’m here at Yale now. It was great to play against the boys, though. I know the whole Navy team, and it’s a great group of guys.”
The Bulldogs will have a week to rest before facing off against defending Ivy League champion No. 2 Princeton on Feb. 2 in a match that may decide this year’s Ancient Eight title. In comparison, the Tigers will have less time to relax, as they will try to end Trinity’s 175-game winning streak Wednesday before taking on the Elis.
“We have lots of time to recover,” Oetter said. “On the other hand, Princeton is playing Trinity on Wednesday, and they’re not going to get back to New Jersey until late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. When we played Trinity, our legs were sapped, and they’ll probably feel the same way. That’s a hidden benefit of our schedule.”
Like the Bulldogs, the Tigers are undefeated in league play. With perennial powerhouse Harvard losing six of its top seven players to graduation, Princeton and Yale are the early favorites to win the Ivy League this season.
The Elis will face off against the Tigers on Feb. 2 at the Jadwin Squash Courts in New Jersey.