The men’s squash team finished the season with the win it had been waiting all season for.
The Bulldogs finished third in the National Intercollegiate Squash Racquets Association team championship Feb. 23-25 at the Brady Squash Center. Trinity finished in first place, while Harvard took second.
On Sunday, in the battle for third place, the team faced off against archrival Princeton on the final day of competition. The team upset the Tigers 5-4 and avenged their regular season loss from three weeks ago.
Seeded fourth in the tournament, Bulldogs defeated Western Ontario 7-2 Friday, and were shut out by Trinity (9-0) Saturday to make the third place playoff.
For the Elis, the victory over Princeton was the highlight of the year, since it was their first victory over the Tigers in two years. The Bulldogs lost a close match this year and are still unhappy about the 1999-2000 season, in which they lost 8-1 and 9-0.
“It’s our goal all season to beat Princeton,” Peter Grote ’02 said. “The look on the Princeton players’ faces was priceless. And sending them home for a two and a half hour bus ride after a loss was a beautiful thing. We’ve been on the other side of that.”
The victory was also special for the team’s seven seniors. This match marked the end of the Yale careers of captain Joshua Barenbaum ’01, Frederick Bouchardy ’01, Ashley Friedman ’01, Robert Gilpin ’01, Charles Smith ’01, Alexander Tilney ’01 and Kenneth Woo ’01.
“For the seniors, it was as sweet as could be. A great ending note,” Barenbaum wrote in an e-mail. “[It was] also a great parting gift for the coach. That was something that we knew he wanted, and it was nice to be able to deliver for him.”
The team match was hotly contested, and so were the individual games. The most exciting match against Princeton came at the number two position. Grote quickly fell behind 2-0 in a match the team had counted on winning.
In third game, he began battling back, moving the ball around the court and forcing his opponent to run more. Princeton’s Will Evans faded, and Grote swept the next three matches.
“At the beginning of the match, I thought I was going down like a rock,” Grote said. “Then I started moving the ball and pretty much outlasted him. I knew I had to win for us to win.”
By the end of Grote’s lengthy and hard-fought match, the Bulldogs had pulled ahead 3-1. In the number six spot, Ryan Byrnes ’04 won a quick match (3-1), and Barenbaum ’01 shut out his opponent in an easy victory at No. 8.
As the second half of the Bulldogs squad took the courts, Yale needed two more wins to secure a victory. No. 1 Anshul Manchanda ’04 lost, but No. 7 Albert McCrery ’04 dominated his match and won in three games.
The No. 9 position became the deciding contest, as the Bulldogs lost the No. 9 match earlier this season against Princeton, and needed a switch in order to beat the Tigers. Bouchardy lost the first game, but then battled back to win the next three games.
“I’ve had a rough season,” Bouchardy said. “I’m glad that coach gave me a chance to help win it for the team. It leaves a sweet taste.”
The team has concluded its season, but several members of the squad will travel to Harvard for the NISRA individual championships March 2-4.
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