The No. 8 Yale men’s squash team entered this past weekend undefeated in its first five matches, looking to continue its hot start as it travelled to face two Ivy foes ranked in the nation’s top eight. But No. 5 Penn and No. 7 Princeton derailed any plans for an undefeated season.
The Bulldogs (5–2, 1–2 Ivy) dropped a 5–4 thriller to Penn (6–1, 2–0) on Saturday. Exhausted after the close match, Yale faced a fresher Princeton (7–1, 2–0) squad that had blanked Brown the day before, and the Elis fell 8–1 to the Tigers.
“We fought hard against Penn, and we are all very happy that we came so close, but I don’t think any of us were really expecting that 8–1 performance against Princeton,” captain and No. 6 Thomas Kingshott ’18 said. “It’s more important to think of the positives and to reflect and take action on areas of improvement.”
On Saturday, Yale faced Penn, its first opponent of the weekend. During a grueling, time-consuming match — the Elis battled on the court for over four hours — Penn’s endurance held out to clinch a 5–4 win. Three Bulldogs had their matches go four or more games, with Kingshott and No. 7 Calvin McCafferty ’20 playing in decisive fifth and final games.
Kingshott entered a competitive set and left victorious. The captain battled in a grueling, five-game match with four of the five outcomes decided by just two points, the final one going 11–9 in Kingshott’s favor.
Kingshott was not the only Bulldog to contribute to Yale’s score. No. 3 Harrison Gill ’21 secured his win after three games of seemingly effortless play. No. 4 Arjun Kochhar ’18 and No. 9 Yohan Pandole ‘19 followed suit with wins themselves. Kochhar suffered a sprained ankle during play, yet powered through to secure the win. The final result came down to the performance of No. 5 Pierson Broadwater ’18 — and despite his best efforts, Penn pulled ahead in four matches to secure the win for the day.
Exiting the Penn match, Yale faced a quick turnaround in revamping for the Princeton match the next day. Penn’s competitive play left the Elis sluggish and unable to reciprocate the excellent play set forth from the Tigers’ lineup. Yale fell to Princeton 8–1.
“Princeton is good,” head coach Dave Talbott said. “We were physically a step slow after Penn.”
Entering the match having not dropped a contest against Princeton since 2013, the squad had hoped to continue the trajectory. However, after the Tigers gained a 4–0 lead on the Bulldogs, Princeton’s momentum heightened their excitement and quality of play to deliver the upset. Yale nevertheless attempted to play catch up and did not leave the court without a fight. Over half the team took their opponents to four games, with Kingshott taking his to five. McCafferty suffered a sprained ankle in the fourth game that forced him to retire from the match.
Gill was the only member to leave the court triumphant. He bested opponent Cole Becker in three competitive games. Gill has yet to lose a match in his rookie season, meaning that the future looks bright for the Elis.
“We felt a little deflated for Princeton after giving it our all the day before,” GIll said. “All credit to Princeton, though. They fought very hard and came prepared.”
This past weekend was a step backward after dominate victories to open the new year. In early January, Yale also traveled to face Amherst and Williams. The Bulldogs annihilated Amherst 9–0 and Williams 8–1 on Jan. 7. The Williams match marked the return of No. 1 Spencer Lovejoy ’20 to the court after he recovered from appendicitis, which sidelined him earlier in the season. Lovejoy bested Williams and suffered losses during this past weekend’s matches in three games apiece.
Yale will look to regain its winning momentum this weekend against No. 6 Rochester and No. 3 St. Lawrence. Gill said the matches were “need-to-win” contests in order to preserve the team’s top-eight ranking and keep its spot in Division I.
Yale hits the court this Sunday at noon.
Lauren Cueto | email@example.com