The men’s squash team traveled to Harvard hoping to pull off a stunning upset to capture the Ivy League title, but instead returned home after a tough loss.

The Crimson defeated the Elis 9-0 Wednesday in Cambridge, Mass., repeating last year’s result when they fell to Harvard by the same score in the Elm City.

But, unlike last season — when the Bulldogs failed to pick up a single game against the Cantabs — Yale played with great intensity throughout and contended in the majority of their matches, dropping five of their contests by 3-2 scores.

“I have never lost a 9-0 match when I felt more like we could have won,” head coach David Talbott said. “It was a three-and-a-half hour match — a dogfight. We didn’t go out there just to put up a good showing, but we went out there thinking we could win. If we had gained a couple more points, it could easily have come to 5-4.”

The team continued to show the improvement exhibited two weeks ago when they faced off against Princeton, falling 5-4 against a team they had lost 9-0 to last year.

“The Yale team is sitting on the brink of being one of the top teams in the country,” Christopher Olsen ’03 said. “But as soon as we get close we are surprised with our performance, and in that time, we let up and the opponent has a window to break back into the match.”

The toughest loss for the Elis came at the No. 5 position. Blake Gilpin ’01 led Harvard’s Dylan Patterson 2-0 before dropping the final three games. Olsen, Aftab Mathur ’03, captain Josh Barenbaum ’01 and Brian Smith ’01 also took their Cantab opponents to five games.

“It was a tough loss, but everyone played hard to the end,” Barenbaum said. “No regrets; we have just done things right this year and my best moment as a graduating senior was seeing how the kids on their team wanted to play for coach, and in our program when we did introductions.”

Today, Yale hosts the men’s National Intercollegiate Squash Racquets Association tournament. After their loss to Harvard, the men’s team will be seeded fourth in the draw, facing the No. 5 Western Ontario team that has yet to be tested by any of the top four teams.

“The season’s not over, so we’re going to push really hard for the last few days,” Frederick Bouchardy ’01 said. “We’re optimistic and have some matches left in us, so I hope we can go out with a bang.”

The women’s team (8-6, 3-6 Ivy) also suffered a 9-0 loss to national champion Harvard, who caused a significant upset at last weekend’s Howe Cup when they defeated favored Trinity. The Elis were only able to gain a single game.

“Harvard has very strong numbers 1, 2 and 3, but our top three did a good job of making them fight for their points,” captain Catherine Fiederowicz ’01 said. “It wasn’t a walkover by any means.”

On March 2, Fiederowicz and Devon Dalzell ’04 will participate in the women’s individual tournament made up of the country’s top 64 players, to be held at Harvard.