After a strong regular season performance that culminated in a No. 6 ranking, the Yale men’s squash team was bounced out early with a loss to No. 3 Penn in the first round of the College Squash Association National Team Championships.
This result was a repeat of the two teams’ meeting in February, when Yale faltered and ended without achieving a win in a single match. The Bulldogs’ postseason showing means the Yale men finish seventh in the nation.
This weekend, Tufts, MIT and Harvard all opened their courts to host the top teams in men’s college squash. The top eight teams competed in the Potter Cup division, the winner of which was crowned the national champion. The Bulldogs (9–8, 4–3 Ivy) led a 9–6 regular season campaign before the tournament, but struggled against their toughest opponents as the squad ultimately exited the playoffs winless.
“It was a brutal weekend for us,” Jed Burde ’23 said. “We went in carrying a couple of injuries, but we did our best given the circumstances.”
Headed into the tournament, the top eight, in order, were No. 1 Harvard (16–0, 7–0), No. 2 Trinity (19–2, 0–0 NESCAC), Pennsylvania (14–3, 6–1), No. 4 Princeton (11–6, 4–3), No. 5 Rochester (11–7, 4–0 Liberty), Yale, No. 7 Virginia (19–5, 0–0 ACC) and No. 8 Drexel (10–9, 3–0 Colonial). During the regular season, the Bulldogs posted a 1–6 record against this field, with a win against Virginia in the second match of the season.
First on the team’s postseason docket was a match against the Quakers. Yale entered the match with a chip on its shoulder after a brutal 9–0 loss earlier in February and an 8–1 loss in the first round of last year’s College Squash Association championships. However, despite its efforts, the team fell 8–1 again to its conference rival. The similarities with last year’s meeting extended even further, with the team’s sole win in both years coming from Eric Kim ’22. Despite match lengths in excess of 50 minutes from captain Spencer Lovejoy ’20, Harrison Gill ’21, Calvin McCafferty ’20 and Jacob Rhee ’21, no player was ever to seal the deal in these long fights.
With this result, the Elis moved into the consolation semifinals where they faced off against the Cavaliers. Here, the teams proved tough matches for each other, with the first eight matches resulting in a 4–4 split. Highlights included three-set wins from Nadav Raziel ’22 and Burde and another hour-long match from Gill, who won in five games to keep the Bulldogs on top. The contest came down to a meeting of the one-seeds, where Spencer Lovejoy, despite a sterling season, was unable to capitalize and fell in three games.
After this loss, Yale faced off against Drexel on Sunday to determine who would finish seven and eight in the country. Here, despite a 3–6 loss in the regular season, Yale prevailed, taking an 8–1 win. This dominant victory saw three-set sweeps from Lovejoy, Raziel, Gill, McCafferty, Tyler Carney ’21, Rhee and Janson Chu ’23. With this, the Bulldogs finished seventh in men’s college squash, a relative disappointment compared with the quality season.
“Unfortunately, our efforts were not quite enough, but champions keep playing until they get it right, and mark my words: we will get it right,” Burde said.
Yale’s first-round foil Penn overperformed expectations and met Harvard in the finals, where Harvard handily won 6–1.
This was the Crimson’s first championship win since 2014.
Matthew Cline | email@example.com