After a weekend back-to-back against two top-10 opponents, the Yale men’s and women’s squash teams each split their last matches of the season as they look ahead to the playoffs.
The No. 7 Bulldogs (9–6, 4–3 Ivy) ventured to Hanover, New Hampshire, on Friday to face off against No. 9 Dartmouth (6–7, 2–5 Ivy). This was a confrontation of two dominant in-conference rivals, and the match promised to be an important tone-setter for the postseason. While close in the rankings, Yale has handily outplayed Dartmouth in their recent meetings, taking nine of the last 10 matches. On the heels of a disappointing loss against No. 3 Penn last week, the Yale men reminded the spectators why they are an elite program, beating Dartmouth 7–2. They followed up with a home match on Sunday against No. 1 Harvard (12–0, 7–0 Ivy), falling 9–0.
“Dartmouth was a must-win for us,” Nadav Raziel ’22 said. “They brought a lot of fans to the match, especially their frat brothers, so it was a great atmosphere. However, we dominated across the lineup and we were just too strong for them. I think their fans were a little bit too loud and rude, especially the frat boys, so the best revenge for us was beating them and ruining their Friday pre-game.”
The match saw the return of Raziel and Jed Burde ’23 to the lineup. Both have been crucial parts of some of the Elis’ best wins this season, and the return of players from the injury reserve to the top nine proved important to a dominant performance. Six of the Yale men swept their matches in three sets.
The contest against Harvard on Sunday, however, was a different story. With 32 national championships under its belt — including the 2019 title — the Crimson have arguably the most storied program in the history of college squash. They arrived to New Haven with sky-high confidence and put the finishing touches on an undefeated season with a shutout.
Burde stressed the team’s forward-focused mindset after the loss.
“We have three weeks before nationals which we will use to, first, reset, deal with any injuries, and then get back on the horse,” the Philadelphia native said. “Having this mini training block and using it correctly is crucial for our performance at nationals — where we hope to shock the world.”
The No. 4 women’s squad (12–3, 4–3 Ivy) also split its matches with a win against No. 9 Dartmouth (6–6, 2–5 Ivy) and a loss against No. 1 Harvard (13–0, 7–0 Ivy). The Elis now sit at third in the conference, just behind Harvard and No. 3 Princeton.
The 8–1 win against Dartmouth continued the stellar play from captain Lucy Beecroft ’20 and from the seventh and eighth seeds Riya Mital ’21 and Alexis Lazor ’21. There was stellar play at all slots on the depth chart too, with five Bulldogs closing out their matches in three sets.
“Everyone performed really well against Dartmouth, and it was awesome to beat them 8–1, because we had a closer match with them during Ivy Scrimmages at the beginning of the season.” Lazor said.
The Harvard match brought similar results for the Elis. The undefeated Harvard women closed out their own perfect season with a 9–0 sweep. Going forward, it is likely that the Bulldogs will get a rematch against some of the Ivy programs that gave them trouble during the regular season.
Lazor continued to emphasize the team’s ambition to set the record straight where some other rivals are concerned.
“We went into our Harvard match with a positive mindset and were just trying to go in there and give it our best shot and make the match as close as possible,” the Massachusetts native said. “It may not have gone as well as we hoped, but we still are really proud of our great season overall and are really excited to see what we can do at nationals, and maybe beat some teams we lost to in the regular season.”
The 2020 Women’s National Team Championships will be held in New Haven from Feb. 21 to 23. The 2020 Men’s National Team Championships will convene in Boston from Feb. 28 to March 1.
Matthew Cline | firstname.lastname@example.org