Mother Nature must be a Crimson fan.
Last week’s snowstorm forced Yale and Harvard to postpone the men’s squash match by seven days, giving the Cantabs time to get over an earlier loss to Princeton and allowing their top player, Siddharth Suchde, an opportunity to recover from an ankle injury.
With Suchde back in the Crimson ladder, the experienced Harvard squad (6-2, 5-1), which features seven starting seniors, made quick work of the Elis (11-4, 3-3) in a 7-2 victory. Moshe Sarfaty ’08 and Todd Ruth ’10 picked up the only wins of the night for the Bulldogs, though several other players were able to take a few individual games off the Crimson. The Swiss-born Suchde, who is expected to win the CSA Individual Championships a week from Friday, won 3-0 against captain Nick Chirls ’07 and gave up only 6 total points in the contest.
“Everyone played hard,” Chirls said. “Harvard just came out as the better team. We got what we expected from them.”
Aaron Fuchs ’10 and Ethan Oetter ’09 both played in matches that came down to a deciding fifth game. Though each ultimately lost his final game, Max Samuel ’08 said the close losses indicate that Harvard is beatable.
“If we’d won those matches that went five games, then it’s 5-4,” Samuel said. “On any day we could switch some matches at the bottom and beat them.”
Dating back to 2004, Yale has lost three consecutive regular season matches to the Crimson, including a similar 6-3 loss last season that kept the Elis from claiming sole ownership of the Ivy League crown.
The Yale-Harvard match concludes an Ivy League season that saw the Bulldogs fall to Penn, Princeton and Harvard for the first time since the 1995-’96 campaign. Bragging rights and seeding for the upcoming CSA Team Championships were the only things on the line last night. This year’s Ancient Eight champion was decided just over a week ago, when Princeton topped Harvard, 6-3, to cap off an undefeated conference run. The best the Elis could have done with a win over the Cantabs was to move into a tie for second.
“I think all of the teams at the top of the Ivy League are pretty much the same,” Sarfaty said. “It’s about the team that is playing the best. The team with the best attitude tends to win the match.”
Some team members said they do believe Harvard and Princeton are the best teams in the Ivy League, and attributed the Tiger and Crimson success to great depth in their lineups and strong play at the top of their ladders.
“I don’t think we’ve presented our best squash this year,” Sarfaty said. “I feel like we have so much more to show on the court.”
The Bulldogs won’t have to wait long to seek revenge for their losses. This weekend’s CSA Team Championships at the Brady Squash Center will bring together Trinity, Western Ontario, Williams and the top five Ivy League schools to compete for a national championship.
The Bulldogs open up on Friday night with a rematch against Penn. The Quakers upset the Bulldogs in New Haven in December by a 6-3 margin. This time around, the Elis come in as the underdogs, but that is not how the team is looking at it. Samuel said he thinks people expect Yale, the number five seed, to beat Penn, the number four seed.
“In all of our minds, we’re the better team,” Chirls said. “If we play well, we’re going to win. Last time we took them a little too lightly, but we’re not going to do that this time.”
One thing that is undisputed is Trinity’s strength. Many believe the Bantams have one of the best squash teams ever assembled.
“I don’t think anyone can touch Trinity,” Samuel said.
This weekend is Trinity’s last chance to display its dominance and Yale’s last chance to make a statement in the Ivy League. Everything will unfold in the Brady Squash Center starting Friday.