As the Elis prepare to head into the final leg of the 2018–19 season, the Yale men’s squash team overcame an early roadblock against Columbia to handily defeat Cornell on Sunday.
No. 6 Yale (9–4, 3–3 Ivy) fell to No.7 Columbia (7–4, 3–2) on Saturday 9–0 before regaining momentum and overpowering No. 14 Cornell (4–9, 1–4) 8–1 on Sunday. With only two matches to go until the College Squash Association Championships, this week’s performances served as necessary preparation before the Bulldogs final regular season matches against No. 1 Harvard and close rival No. 5 Dartmouth.
“Overall, we are disappointed to not have brought our best in both matches, but we’re looking to peak as a team for the team nationals in two weeks,” No. 1 Spencer Lovejoy ’20 said. “We don’t need to be playing our best right now, but we’re going to bring it when it counts.”
The Lions shut out Yale on Saturday in a 9–0 clobbering. Of the top-nine Elis, the No. 1, 4 and 6 seeds all fell in 3–0 sweeps. Lovejoy succumbed to Velavan Senthikumar, who ranks No. 9 in the nation, with 11–5, 11–5 and 11–5 results.
No. 2 Nadav Raziel ’22 and No. 3 Harrison Gill ’21 both put up strong fights against the Lions but still suffered 3–1 defeats. Raziel won his third game to stave off defeat, but fell in a marathon fourth game, 11-13. Gill followed suit in crushing the third game 11–3 but again could not sustain enough momentum to snatch a win in the fourth.
For the past eight seasons, Yale and Columbia have posted an even set of wins and losses against each other. However, even with adjacent rankings this season, the Lions proved dominant. With the loss against Columbia, the Elis had to reconsider their strategy before the Cornell match.
“[The Lions] are a strong team, and they really showed up, and we were a little flat and the result showed it,” captain and No. 6 Jay Losty ’19 said. “We know we can compete with the top teams, and we are hoping to get another chance to play them in nationals and believe that we can play them much closer and actually beat them.”
Yale returned to the courts the next day and smashed Cornell in an impressive 8–1 performance. Lovejoy, Losty, No. 4 Tyler Carney ’21, No. 5 Eric Kim ’22 and No. 7 Yohan Pandole ’19 swept their foes, displaying the consistency and depth present throughout the roster. The only loss came from No. 9 Jonathan Kovac ’19, who bested Cornell in the first game 11–7, but failed to extend his lead into the next three games.
“I was happy to see that despite a bad match against Columbia the day before, we were able to forget about it and move on,” Lovejoy said. “It’s always tough playing on the road after long bus rides, and we adjusted well to the courts at Cornell and played with much more passion and aggression than the previous day.”
Gill, No. 3 Calvin McCafferty ’20 and No. 8 Jacob Rhee ’21 won in four games. Gill lost in the third game but quickly regained his composure in the fourth to finish off the Big Red. McCafferty fell in his first game but rattled off three wins in a row to grab the victory. Rhee also lost the first game but battled back for a win in the fourth. Raziel did not play against Cornell, allowing Bulldogs ranked third and below to play at higher competition.
The Elis have one week to prepare before the final weekend of regular season play, when they face Harvard and Dartmouth. Until then, they plan to focus on maintaining a strong mentality and perfecting their technical skills. The Bulldogs’ final performances will dictate who they will face in the CSA Team Championships in two weeks.
Yale will play Harvard this Friday in Cambridge and will return to Brady to face Dartmouth this Sunday.
Lauren Cueto | firstname.lastname@example.org