After a comfortable win over Yale on Wednesday, the Harvard men’s squash team was poised to ride the momentum and finally claim the CSA Championship.
The Crimson blew through the opening round, easily handling Western Ontario in a 9-0 victory. But on Saturday, Harvard encountered a team that has been a thorn in its side this season.
The Princeton Tigers, who upset the Crimson’s Ivy League title hopes Feb. 11, proved again to be an immovable force for Harvard, as a close 5-4 decision stopped the team’s title dreams once again.
In the end, the Crimson, who entered the tournament as the third season, would end its championship run the same as it began, placing third overall after beating Yale in the consolation match. Princeton would go on to be defeated on Sunday by Trinity, which claimed its ninth straight national title.
With the respectable finish, Harvard enjoyed its final moment as a team.
“Its a bittersweet moment for the seniors,” sophomore Verdi DiSesa said. “With six of the nine top nine players leaving, its going to be up to [the underclassmen] to work hard.”
Five members of the Crimson will be in action again at the ISA Individuals this Friday and Saturday.
HARVARD 9, YALE 0
Motivated by the slim loss to Princeton, the Crimson refocused, and, looking more like the team that played on Friday, dominated the Bulldogs.
For the second time in the tournament, the men did not lose a single match to their opponents.
Freshman Colin West, who dropped his first contest of the season to the Tigers, appeared back in form, overcoming his adversary in straights, 9-6, 9-4, 9-0.
“We are feeling good finishing with a 9-0 against Yale,” DiSesa said. “After we lost to Princeton, an awful loss, we wanted to make a statement.”
PRINCETON 5, HARVARD 4
The team’s championship hopes were dashed on Saturday as the team fell to Princeton for the second time this season.
After winning a league match on Feb. 11, the Tigers added insult to injury over the weekend by once again defeating the Crimson, this time by a slim margin of 5-4.
“The 5-4 match could have gone either way,” coach Satinder Bajwa said. “It’s one of those things. There are never any guarantees.”
After the first three matches, Princeton led with a 2-1 advantage.
Senior Garnett Booth provided the only Harvard win in the first trio of matches. Booth, after dropping the first game 9-5, rallied to win the next three.
Fellow senior Todd Ostrow, in the ninth position, almost overcame a two-game deficit early in the meet. After losing 9-4 and 9-6, Ostrow mounted an exhilarating comeback, winning the next two games, 9-4 and 9-0. But Parker Sutton regained his composure against the resurging Ostrow to nab the game and match with a 9-6 score.
No. 1 flight Siddharth Suchde dropped his second match of the season, losing to Mauricio Sanchez, 9-2, 9-3, 9-0.
Captain Ilan Oren remained undefeated this season with a 9-3, 9-0, 9-5 triumph in the second position.
HARVARD 9, WESTERN ONTARIO 0
In the inaugural round of the CSA Championships, the squash team decimated eighth-seeded Western Ontario to advance to the second round. The Crimson did not drop a single match against the Mustangs, winning the match, 9-0.
To add to the impressive win, the team only lost one game in the entire competition. In the eighth position, sophomore Niko Hrdy, after dropping his first game, went on to convincingly defeat his opponent, 4-9, 9-1, 9-1, 9-2.
In the top three spots, the Crimson dominated as well. In the first position, Suchde breezed past the Mustangs’ Greg Hutner with a 9-1, 9-0, 9-1 victory. Oren and West both claimed definitive victories, 9-2, 9-4, 9-2 and 9-3, 9-0, 9-3, respectively.
—Staff writer Vincent R. Oletu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.