HARTFORD — Yale’s No. 3 men’s squash team (8-1, 3-0 Ivy) went into its highly anticipated match against No. 1 Trinity (6-0) on Wednesday with a relaxed mindset. But despite fighting hard, the Elis fell to the Bantams 9-0. Going into the match, the Bulldogs and the Bantams were both undefeated.
“The whole team showed some resolve,” Rusty Feldman ’11 said. “And we really did play with some heart.”
Naishadh Lalwani ’11 added, “It was a big moment; it was our moment to shine and we didn’t shine. We just sparkled for a moment.”
Todd Ruth ’10, John Roberts ’12 and CJ Plimpton ’11, who played in the No. 3, No. 5 and No. 9 positions, respectively, each managed to gain a match on their opponents. The rest of the Elis in the top 9 went down in straight sets, 3-0.
“It was a very competitive match,” Christopher Reid ’10 said. “The score isn’t really reflective of the actual performance.”
Prior to the start of the match here in Hartford, head coach Dave Talbott and assistant head coach Gareth Webber, stressed the importance of concentration and focus. They also reminded the team that since Trinity is not in Yale’s conference, this match did not have as much riding on it as the others.
“This is the one match all season where we have no pressure,” captain Ethan Oetter ’09 explained. “We went into this relaxed, and we were just going for our shots.”
In the world of intercollegiate squash, Trinity’s unblemished record and consistency have launched it far above the rest. Since the 1997-98 season, the Bantams have won over 180 consecutive matches, giving them the longest winning streak in intercollegiate varsity athletics.
And thanks to a heavy emphasis on international recruitment, Trinity has assembled a world-class team, without a single American in their top nine.
“Their top four can basically be on the pro tour right now,” Oetter said.
Despite the defeat, the team remained optimistic about the rest of the season.
“We’ve just got to regroup, look at our strengths and go into the next match positive,” Aaron Fuchs ’10 said.
Mike Maruca ’11 added, “We need to take such a serious loss as motivation. The season’s not over yet — we’ve got two more big matches before Nationals.”
Next weekend, the Bulldogs will play the first of those big matches when they face Princeton. The 9-0 Tigers are the biggest obstacle for the Elis on the way to the Ivy title.
“Princeton’s what we’ve had our sights on,” Oetter said. “We have the best team we’ve had in a long time and so does Princeton. Everyday we go into practice and work our butts off with Princeton in mind.”
“If we want, we can be happy with No. 3,” Lalwani added. “Or, we can man up and get to No. 2.”
The Bulldogs will battle it out with Princeton for the Ivy title on Jan. 31 at the Brady Squash Center.