Three wins separate the Bulldogs from a national championship.
The No. 2 men’s squash team (13–1, 6–0 Ivy), which won the Ivy League championship two weeks ago, will face No. 7 Dartmouth (10–6, 2–4) in the first round of the Potter Cup in Cambridge, Mass. Should they win, the Elis will face either No. 3 Princeton (10–2, 5–1) or No. 6 Harvard (7–5, 3–3). In the final, Yale would most likely run into longtime rival No. 1 Trinity (17–0), which has won the CSA championship for the last 12 consecutive seasons and 239 straight matches.
“It’s the biggest prize in college squash,” captain Naishadh Lalwani ’11 said. “This weekend is a chance for us to prove that we are the best team in the country and everyone is very excited by the opportunity.”
In the first round of action, Yale will take on the Big Green, who have won only a third of their contests against Ancient Eight opponents.
The Bulldogs defeated Dartmouth 7–2 early in January. One of the Bulldogs’ two losses in that match was a default by Yale’s No. 1 Hywel Robinson ’13 who withdrew with a leg injury; Robinson will, however, be healthy entering into this weekend’s contests.
“It’s the national championships,” Robinson said. “These are the top eight teams in the country. Every team is a great team. We have to play as hard as we can if we want to progress.”
If the Bulldogs win their first-round match, they will play either Princeton or Harvard. Yale defeated both teams earlier in the season, but with varying difficulty. The Elis beat Harvard 7–2, but barely edged out Princeton 5–4.
Although Harvard has the home-court advantage, Princeton is still the favorite going into its Friday matchup as the Tigers easily defeated Harvard earlier in the year, 7–2.
A semifinal match between Yale and Princeton would be a repeat of the thrilling 5–4 contest three weeks ago that came down to one final match at the No. 4 position to determine the Ivy League champion.
In that contest, Lalwani battled past his Princeton opponent, Peter Sopher, after dropping the opening game, 11–8. He crawled his way back into the match in the second set and took command in the third and fourth games.
“Princeton’s going to be really tough,” Lalwani admitted. “It’s always hard to beat a team for a second time when the first one was so close.”
The Bantams are undefeated this season and were unchallenged by Yale when the two teams played earlier this year. Trinity brushed aside the Bulldogs in a straightforward 7–2 victory. The most matches the Bantams have dropped against any team this season is three. Cornell, Princeton, Harvard and Rochester were the teams that accomplished that feat.
“The focus is on Dartmouth and Princeton right now, and we will think about Trinity if we get there,” Lalwani said. “To beat Trinity anywhere would be very special, but it would be perfect if we managed to do it in the national final.”
Play begins on Friday at 11 a.m. in Cambridge.