In what head coach David Talbott described as “one of the most exciting squash matches I’ve experienced in my years here,” the men’s squash team (5-2, 3-1 Ivy) narrowly lost 5-4 to Ivy league rival Princeton (6-0, 4-0 Ivy) on Saturday.
Entering the match, the Bulldogs thought they would have to run positions No. 5 through No. 9 to defeat the Tigers, since Princeton’s top four players were all nationally ranked. As predicted, Princeton’s top four players swept Anshul Manchanda ’04, Joshua Schwarz ’05, Peter Grote ’02 and Ryan Barnes ’04.
Grote was the only one of the four to win a game and according to Talbott he almost pulled through for the Bulldogs, winning the first and then going up 7-2 in the second game against Danny Rutherford.
Yale responded at the bottom as Aftab Mathur ’03 defeated Dent Wilkens 3-1 at No. 6. Then the two freshmen Gavin Cumberbatch ’05 and Christopher Wyant ’05 both went the distance and outfought their opponents 3-2 at No. 7 and No. 9, respectively. The most impressive performance of the day came from Yale’s No. 8 Albert McCrery ’04 as he completely overwhelmed Rob Siverd 3-0.
In the fifth position, though, Christopher Olsen ’03 went down to Princeton’s Eric Pearson in a match that decided the winner. It was a fierce battle and despite facing a match point in the fourth game, Olsen fought on and forced Pearson to a fifth. But Pearson was just too much and defeated Olsen 9-2 to secure the win for Princeton.
Despite the tough loss, coach Talbott was happy with his team’s performance and said they “played well and could have pulled it out, but we couldn’t close at the top. We were disappointed but it was a great match.”
Grote, the team captain, echoed Talbott’s sentiments.
“It was a close match, we are disappointed obviously but we have to keep on going,” he said. “We are confident we can beat Harvard on our home court in two weeks.”
Princeton’s win kept them tied with Harvard as the only unbeaten teams in the Ivy League and sets up their clash next Sunday as a potential championship bout. Yale fell to 3-1 in the league but still has a shot at a three-way championship if Princeton beats Harvard and then the Bulldogs win the following week.
Talbott is not only confident in the future but excited as well.
“This is the best team we’ve had in the last 10 years,” Talbott said. “We’re hoping to beat Harvard in two weeks and if Princeton beats them as well then we’ll grab a share of the Ivy title. We also have the year-end tournament which decides the final national rankings and may give us another go around at Princeton and hopefully another shot at defending national champion Trinity.”