The Yale men’s squash team (10–9, 2–5 Ivy) entered the B Division Hoehn Cup as the top seed, but despite progressing to the championship round, the Bulldogs fell at the final hurdle. They defeated both Navy (17–10) and Brown (8–9, 1–6 Ivy) to secure a spot in the championship round, only for second-seeded George Washington (16–6) to upset the Elis 6–3 in the final.
Yale’s participation in the B Division marks the first time Yale has been sorted into any division other than the A Division in 14 years, the furthest archived team results. Selection into the A category is contingent on being ranked in the top eight, and the Bulldogs fell one seed outside that elite group. In the regular season, Yale fell to each of the top eight teams and defeated all B Division teams scheduled for play, landing the team the top seed entering the contest.
“This is more of a ‘gaining-experience’ season, which the freshman and sophomores were able to do, which is great for them and for next year’s team,” captain and No. 6 Thomas Kingshott ’18 said. “This is a great group of hardworking guys, and it has been a privilege to go to war with them every single weekend.”
On Friday, Yale blew No. 16 Navy away in a 7–2 victory in its first-round matchup, paralleling the result earned in the regular season. Of these seven positive outcomes, six were secured in three-game sweeps. No. 2 Harrison Gill ’21 played in a riveting contest against his Midshipman counterpart, Gill won the match with 11–5, 13–11 and 12–10 decisions. Alongside Gill, No. 8 Yohan Pandole ’19 earned his win in three games of 11–8, 11–8 and 13–11.
Kingshott demonstrated his subtle and strategic style of play to walk away with a five-game win against an opponent who defeated him in three games during regular-season play. Kingshott opened up with two wins, but the Navy repartee knotted the score at two, before the Eli captain rose to the challenge and secured a match-deciding 11–6 win.
“The league has become a lot more competitive, and now this year there are more than 10 strong teams that can all hold their own in Division I,” Gill said. “It’s unfortunate that there is an artificial cutoff between the eighth and ninth team, but it gives us a lot of motivation to make a statement this weekend and prove that we are the ninth-best team in the country.”
Yale dominated the court once more against Brown in the semifinal matchup, closing out the day with a resounding 8–1 triumph. Fifth-seeded Brown entered Saturday’s play invigorated after upsetting a favored Drexel team in the only unexpected result of the day. Building on that momentum, the Bears took Yale to matches of four games or more in four separate instances. No. 1 Spencer Lovejoy ’20 fell in his first of four games 8–11 only to respond with three impressive results of 11–4, 11–3 and 11–2. Martin followed Lovejoy’s performance with a five-set victory in a game full of twists and turns.
The Elis winning performances were not isolated to the top of the roster. No. 9 Jay Losty ’19 entered the day with a vengeance to compensate for his loss to the Bears in the regular season. Losty claimed a 3–1 decision with scores of 11–4, 9–11, 12–10 and 11–7.
The expected successes against Navy and Brown left Yale one match away from claiming the Hoehn Cup on Sunday. Their final hurdle came in the form of George Washington, which had vanquished Cornell and Western Ontario on its way to the final.
“We know we are going into this as a favorite, as we beat them a couple weeks ago,” Pandole said before the match. “We are a strong team and are very confident with our last two results, so if we just go in there and play the way we have been playing the last couple of weeks, we should be fine. That being said, we cannot take this lightly, because they are a good team who yielded good results this season.”
Having defeated the Colonials 7–2 in the regular season, the Bulldogs entered the match confidently. But the result did not match their expectations and their overall performance was not enough to surmount George Washington’s hunger for the win, and the Elis fell 6–3.
The Elis took GW to games of four or more in seven separate instances. Lovejoy lost control of his first game but responded with determined play to take home a win in four. Similarly, Gill played with poise, finishing his opponent in five games and capping off the victory with a decisive 11–2 victory in the final set. Pandole provided the third Yale win, decimating the competition in a three-game sweep.
Unfortunately, the rest of the Bulldog roster could not match those results, instead ending up on the wrong end of the 6–3 final score. The defeat left Yale ranked as the No. 10 team in the nation, a disappointing outcome for a team ranked at No. 8 in the preseason A bracket.
“GW is always a solid team, and they played this match as if it were the national finals for Division I, while we played it as the national finals for Division II,” Kingshott said. “You could tell from the start that they were gunning for us and that they were hungry, and they stepped up a lot. We gave it our best shot, but sometimes it is not good enough, so credit to them and their performance. They deserved it.”
While the team competition may be finished, individual Bulldogs will continue onwards to the College Squash Association Individual Championships this upcoming weekend.
Yale has won 12 squash national championships, with the last coming in 2016.
Lauren Cueto | firstname.lastname@example.org