With the women’s team on hiatus, the Yale men’s squash team faced the matches on Saturday and Sunday solo, finishing the weekend with a win and a loss.
The No. 6 Bulldogs (7–2, 3–0 Ivy) started the weekend’s back-to-back matchups with a duel against No. 15 St. Lawrence (3–10, 0–0 Liberty). Over the past four years, these squads have gone tit for tat, each winning two of their faceoffs. Going into the match, the Elis looked to turn a historically contentious matchup into a definitive win. With a resilient performance, the men did just that, securing a 7–2 victory. However, the Bulldogs fell to No. 7 Rochester (3–3, 0–0 Liberty) 2–7 the day after in a series of four and five set matches.
“Both the St. Lawrence and Rochester matches were good tests for the team,” Patrick Feeley ’22 said. “With a few injuries, it was a great opportunity for everyone on the team to bring their game up a level. We handled St. Lawrence well, as we were overall more solid and tougher than them. Rochester proved to be a bigger challenge, but everyone produced top-quality squash, and though we didn’t get the win, we are improving our games individually and working toward our goal of being the best team we can possibly be.”
Saturday’s contest saw great performances from all slots on Yale’s roster. Captain Spencer Lovejoy ’20, Siow Yee Xian ’23, Jed Burde ’23, Jacob Rhee ’21, Janson Chu ’23 and Feeley all shut out their opponents in three sets, while Tyler Carney ’21 won three straight after dropping just one set.
David Tsai ’23 emphasized every player’s preparedness to perform under pressure as crucial to the team’s success in light of injuries to two key players.
“Asking everyone to play up two spots and hold their own is a major task,” Tsai said. “From [seeds] one to nine, the boys answered. There were standout wins by [Calvin McCafferty ’20] and [Feeley]. This past weekend proved to all of [men’s squash] how dangerous we will be when the full lineup is back in order.”
Despite this stunning showing, injuries prevented the Bulldogs from taking down a fellow top talent, No. 7 Rochester on Sunday. After an intense battle in New York’s Lyman Squash Center, Yale fell for just the second time this season with a final score of 7–2. This is only Yale’s sixth loss in 21 all-time matchups against the Yellowjackets.
While the final score indicates a decisive victory for Rochester, all 10 one-on-one matches needed at least four games to decide a winner, and five of the 10 required a fifth set. This is even more impressive given the absence of Yale’s No. 2 and 3 seeds, Nadav Raziel ’22 and Harrison Gill ’21.
“Rochester was a tough loss, obviously,” Lovejoy said. “But how well we did as a team without our No. 2 and 3 players [out of] the lineup was very encouraging. In my mind, we did well in achieving our goal which was to control the ‘controllables,’ not beat ourselves and make it hard as hell for them to win each point.”
Even given the tough loss, it is clear that the men’s squad has strength up and down the depth chart, with every player ready to be called up.
Tsai praised Coach David Talbott’s leadership and embraced the opportunities for growth moving forward from this loss.
“There are two major lessons from this weekend,” the Massachusetts native said. “The first is that this team is built to adapt. Coach Talbott harps on a ‘next-man-up’ mentality and we executed on that front. The second is that we are likely going to be facing them again come championship season. Everyone on the team is bought in to ensure that when that time comes, Yale sends Rochester walking.”
Next on the docket, men’s squash faces a series of what are sure to be competitive matchups. All six of Yale’s remaining regular season contests are against top 10 teams except for conference rival No. 11 Dartmouth (2–4, 0–3 Ivy). Despite this strength of schedule, the men’s squad is confident that their talent and poise will carry them through the end of a successful season.
“Moving forward, we want to continue this warrior mentality and confirm that we are the hardest team to get off the court,” Lovejoy said. “It was just a few decisions here and there where we needed to be a little more aggressive or hit a slightly different shot that made the difference, and I’m confident that we will continue to better our decision-making.”
Yale men’s and women’s squash will face Trinity this Wednesday at 6:00 pm in New Haven.
Matthew Cline | firstname.lastname@example.org