After a back-to-back on the road this weekend against elite competition, the Yale men’s squash team walked away empty-handed, while the women’s team split its matches.
The No. 8 Bulldogs (8–5, 3–2 Ivy) started the weekend’s back-to-back contests with a duel against No. 4 Princeton (8–2, 3–2 Ivy). This was a confrontation of two dominant in-conference rivals, each with track records of late-season success. Going into the match, the Elis held a slight edge in the history books, having taken seven of the past four matches. However, in a showdown that took all nine matches to determine a winner, the Yale men ultimately fell 5–4.
“It was a tough weekend against two of the top teams in the country,” Eric Kim ’22 said. “We came within a couple points of an upset against the No. 4 team, which shows the strides we are making as a team. Although we ultimately couldn’t pull it out, it should prove to us that we can compete with the best if we bring our ‘A’ game.”
In many ways, the story of the Princeton match was the story of the team’s season to date — great play at the top, strong depth, but injuries hampering a few crucial matchups and leading to a loss. This narrative further showed itself in a brutal faceoff with No. 3 Penn (6–0, 3–2 Ivy). The Bulldogs were shut out, taking a 9–0 loss. Five of the nine matches wrapped up with three-set sweeps.
Captain Spencer Lovejoy ’20 gave credit to the Quakers’ strength and outlined the team’s approach heading toward two more tough opponents to end the season.
“Of course, we were disappointed with the results, but the only thing we can do is go back and take notes, file our after-action reports, and get back to work,” Lovejoy said. “On top of this, we have been hampered by injuries. In my mind, this is encouraging because we’re still in eighth place and in the running for the national championship at the end of March, and I believe our best is yet to come.”
The No. 4 women’s squad (11–2, 4–2 Ivy) found more success on the road, with a loss against No. 2 Princeton (9–1, 4–1 Ivy) and a win against No. 5 Penn (6–5, 2–3 Ivy). The loss against the Tigers was the team’s first Ivy loss this season. The Elis are now tied with Princeton for second place in the conference.
The win against Penn came on the back of continued stellar play from captain Lucy Beecroft ’20 and from the seventh and eighth seeds Riya Mital ’21 and Alexis Lazor ’21.
“I think [our team’s] progress showed in our match against Penn this weekend,” Mital said. “They have a solid team all the way down their ladder, and they fought hard in every spot. It was a true team effort to beat them, and I think we can carry that momentum forward into our matches next weekend and into Nationals.”
It’s likely that the team will face at least one of these two programs again on the road to the College Squash Association National Championship. The players and head coach David Talbott have identified the depth and the performance of younger players as key factors going forward.
Lazor emphasized both these qualities as crucial to the team’s National Championship hopes.
“We lost a close match to Princeton, and we hope to get another shot at them at Nationals,” the Massachusetts native said. “Penn was a very strong team but luckily we were able to carry forward with a very good season and defeat them 5–4. One of our first years Gigi [Yeung] won the deciding match, which was really awesome and fun to watch, and we hope to carry this positive energy and the good wins into our last two matches and then Nationals.”
Both teams will face Dartmouth this Friday in New Hampshire.
Matthew Cline | firstname.lastname@example.org