After a hard-fought match, the No. 3 Bulldogs fell to the No. 2 Tigers, 7-2, on Saturday. Princeton, which is always highly competitive, has assembled one of its best teams in years.
“Princeton is expected to press Trinity for the National Championship this season,” head coach Dave Talbott said. “And we were within a handful of points of winning the match despite the 7-2 score.”
Before squaring off against the Elis (12-2, 3-1 Ivy), Princeton (9-0, 4-0 Ivy) had defeated every one of its opponents this season 9-0 making the Bulldogs the first team to win a game against the second-best in the nation.
“It’s nice to be able to play someone who’s ranked higher than you,” Sharyar Aziz ’10 said. “I think we surprised a lot of people on Saturday and showed them that we’ve been putting in the work and we’re a strong team. We can still be proud of what we did.”
Despite falling to the Tigers, the Bulldogs did pose a threat to their unblemished record.
“We were in that match and we made it a real battle,” captain Ethan Oetter ’09 said. “It seemed that for a 20-minute window, when the last three matches were on, a passive onlooker would’ve thought, ‘Yale’s going to win this thing.’ ”
Though the overall score did not result in a win for Yale, several Bulldogs had their most impressive performances to date.
Playing at No. 8 and No. 9, respectively, Colin Campbell ’09 and C.J. Plimpton ’11 came off the court with two wins for the Elis. Plimpton sailed past Jesus Pena in straight sets and only gave up four total match points. Campbell had a tougher battle against Peter Sopher, but managed to pull out a 10-8, 6-9, 10-8 and 9-4 victory.
“C.J. played really well at No. 9,” Campbell said. “He was playing some of his best squash this season, actually, ever.”
No. 4 John Roberts ’12 and No. 1 John Fulham ’11 also played tight matches and nearly scraped out wins for Yale.
Roberts played an exhausting five-game match. He came on strong, winning the first and third games. But due to what Oetter called “a few unlucky points,” he dropped games four and five.
Fulham, who normally plays further down the ladder, made in impressive showing in the top spot. After going down in the first game 9-6, he came back strong in the second and pulled out a 9-4 victory. Though Fulham dropped games three and four, the score remained close throughout.
“Fulham was playing with a lot of confidence,” Campbell said. “He is very fit right now and is pushing the whole team and raising the bar for us. January and February are a grind; we play a lot of matches and can lose focus in practices. But he’s pushing and challenging us from the top of our line-up.”
Looking ahead, the Bulldogs have their last two conference matches next week. After taking on Brown (2-5, 0-4 Ivy) this weekend, Yale will face off against the Crimson (5-1, 2-1 Ivy) in Cambridge, Mass.
“We’re looking forward to playing Harvard,” Oetter said. “We definitely know it’s going to be a challenge when we roll into Cambridge.”
Campbell added, “The match could easily swing either way, but, if we go out and play as well as we did against Princeton, we should come back with a ‘W.’ I always do love beating Harvard.”
The Bulldogs host the Bears on Saturday before hitting the road on Feb. 11 to take on the Crimson.