On the day when the world of college squash was supposed to be turned upside down, the Trinity men’s squash team did to the Harvard men’s squash team what it has done to everyone else for the past six years—it dominated the Crimson.
The No. 1 Bantams (6-0) calmly and convincingly ran its winning streak to 115 matches last night with a 8-1 victory over No. 2 Harvard (6-1, 3-0 Ivy).
The Crimson came into the match with the Bantams ready to make history. After coming just a few points short in a 5-4 loss to Trinity in the National Championship match last year, Harvard seemed poised to end the Bantams’ reign.
But in front of an overflowing crowd at the Murr Center, Trinity proved that it was still the stronger and deeper squad throughout the ladder.
“Sometimes people just don’t get it going and then you’re trying to find different strategies for different people,” said Harvard coach Satinder Bajwa of his team’s struggles. “The 8-1 score does look like a daunting task to try to bounce back from...but we’ve done it in the past.”
Harvard breezed through its first six matches and was believed to have the strongest top four in the country. The Crimson figured its challenge would be finding a fifth win in the bottom half of the draw against Trinity. It never imagined that it wouldn’t even be in contention.
The crucial blow for Harvard came at the No. 2 spot. Moments after intercollegiate No. 7 senior Michael Blumberg defeated Yvain Badan at the No. 4 position to give the Crimson its sole victory of the day, intercollegiate No. 2 junior Will Broadbent found himself locked in a five-game marathon against Regardt Schonborn.
After taking the first game easily, Broadbent lost a long and exhausting second game. In the third frame, Broadbent fell behind quickly 5-8 but battled back to take the game 10-8.
But the toll of the comeback was evident as Broadbent lost the fourth game convincingly 9-3. After taking a 4-0 lead in the fifth game, the junior surrendered nine straight points to Schonborn and dropped the match 3-2.
“By the end of the fourth and fifth games I was totally cramping up,” Broadbent said. “I thought I could play through it. Obviously, I just didn’t have enough water in my system...I was on the court for over two hours and whenever you do that to yourself it’s just going to kill your body.”
Broadbent’s unexpected loss combined with captain Asher Hochberg and sophomore Jason De Lierre’s losses at No. 6 and No. 5 respectively put Harvard in an early 3-1 hole.
Within five minutes of Broadbent’s match ending, freshman Chessin Gertler dropped his match in four games at the No. 9 position and sophomore Mihir Sheth couldn’t quite complete a comeback, losing in five games at the No. 8 spot.
Those two matches clinched the victory for Trinity—its 115th straight—and made the rest of the contest a formality.
Sheth nearly gave the Crimson an unexpected win when he rallied from two games down to force a fifth game. But with a raucous contigant from Trinity cheering on his opponent, Eric Wadhwa, Sheth fell in the deciding frame 9-2.
“It’s always going to be in my head now that a comeback in not complete until you win the fifth game,” Mihir said. “No matter how hard you try you have to get the win.”
With the Crimson already having lost the match, intercollegiate No. 9 sophomore Ilan Oren dropped his match in four games to Shaun Johnstone. Sophomore Garnett Booth followed suit—losing his match in four games at the No. 7 position.
By the time the marquee matchup pitting intercollegiate No. 4 sophomore Siddharth Suchde against No. 5 Bernardo Samper took center court, the outcome to the contest had long been decided and the once overflowing crowd had thinned.
Suchde, clearly disappointed that his match meant nothing and slightly hampered by a sore hamstring, couldn’t keep up with Samper. The Bantams’ premier player ran Suchde all over the court, beating him handily in three straight games.
With Suchde’s loss, the damage was complete and the Crimson was left to wonder how it could still have so far to go to catch up to Trinity.
When Bajwa addressed the massive crowd before the match, he said that Trinity had “raised the bar for collegiate squash.”
After Thursday’s display, it appears that the bar may still be out of Harvard’s reach.
—Staff writer David H. Stearns can be reached at email@example.com.