Building on a successful past week that included just one loss in eight matches, the Yale No. 2 men’s and No. 4 women’s squash teams prepare to host perennial rival Trinity on Wednesday in one of their most anticipated matches of the season.
The Yale men (5–1, 3–0 Ivy) hope to bounce back after a 5–4 loss against Rochester last Sunday by topping No. 1 ranked Trinity (9–0), the national champion in two of the past three seasons and 15 of the past 17. Last season Trinity won the national tournament with a 7–2 win over St. Lawrence, but Pierson Broadwater ’18 said the Bulldogs look to hope to take advantage of a relatively young Trinity lineup, which saw four players from its starting nine graduate in 2015.
“They are the top-ranked team in the country right now, so this match is just an awesome opportunity to make a statement and show everyone what kind of team we’ve got this year,” said Tripp Kaelin ’18. “Having the match at Yale is huge. We are so lucky to have so much of the Yale community always come out to support the team for these types of matches.”
Though the Bulldogs have fallen to the Bantams for the past three seasons, including an 8–1 loss last year, they do have a historic victory over Trinity to look back on: In January 2012, the Yale men ended Trinity’s 252-match winning streak, which began in 1998 and still stands as the longest winning streak of varsity intercollegiate sports in the United States.
Additionally, Yale played in the 8–1 loss last year without two key starters in Kah Wah Cheong ’17 and Zac Leman ’16, who have both since returned from long-term injury. With the Bulldogs’ play as of late, both teams have an opportunity to win, according to head coach Dave Talbott. He added that the teams are healthy and peaking at the right time, and the “pressure is more on [Trinity] at this point.”
“It’s always a fun match — playing the No. 1 means there’s no pressure,” Broadwater said. “You’re playing with the house’s money so you can really let loose and play your best.”
While the Yale women (6–0, 3–0) fell to Trinity 5–4 in 2013–14 and 7–2 in 2014–15, they are perhaps better-matched with their No. 6 Trinity foes (6–1) this season. The Bantams recently beat Franklin & Marshall 9–0, Columbia 9–0 and Cornell 8–1, while the Bulldogs topped the same teams earlier this season with respective scores of 8–1, 8–1 and 9–0.
Trinity finished the 2014–15 season ranked No. 2 in the nation, but a 5–4 loss to Stanford in its season opener on Nov. 22 dropped the Bantams to their current No. 6 ranking. Yale, meanwhile, will look to maintain its undefeated start against its highest-ranked opponent yet.
“Trinity will be the most contentious match we have had thus far this season, and both [Yale] teams are really looking forward getting the job done at home,” said Jenny Scherl ’17.
Due to Trinity’s consistent success and the proximity of the two campuses, Yale’s home match against the Bantams, happening every other year, typically yields a large fan turnout from both schools.
With the spectators providing excitement each year, Kaelin noted that the matchup is one of the team’s favorites on its schedule.
“Whether the match is at Trinity or at Yale, the atmosphere is always really energetic and I think both teams feed off of it to play some of their best squash,” Kaelin said. “In my mind there has always been both a rivalry and simultaneously a certain mutual respect between us and Trinity that just makes the match so intense and so fun.”
Yale and Trinity will begin play at the Brady Squash Center at 6 p.m.