Crimson Slapped with First Loss in Sweep By Trinity, 9-0

NO-GO FOR NIKO
Patricia N. Calkins

Junior Niko Hrdy, shown here in earlier action, came close to defeating the Bantams in a hard-fought match, but Hrdy couldn’t pull ahead, falling just short of a victory, 10-9, 10-8, 9-5. Perennial powerhouse Trinity has not been defeated in its last 180

Harvard men’s squash realized last night that bringing down an empire is no easy task. Pitted against the No. 1 Trinity Bantams (15-0) the No. 3 Crimson (4-1, 3-0 Ivy) suffered a 9-0 defeat in Hartford, Conn.

“We came in with nothing to lose and we wanted to finish with no regrets,” junior captain Verdi DiSesa said. “I think we did that.”

The Bantams have prevailed in 180 consecutive contests, the longest winning streak in NCAA history for any sport. Trinity hasn’t lost since 1998, taking nine straight national championships.

“Trinity is an unbelievable team,” DiSesa said. “They’re perennially a dominant force in college squash.”

In Wednesday’s showdown, the Bantams got up early and never looked back, as the team swept all nine matches. The young Harvard group failed to find its rhythm, but successfully challenged its more experienced opponents in some very close games. Although the team hoped to bring home a couple wins at certain match levels, coach Satinder Bajwa said he believed the squad contested well since many of Trinity players are national champions in their respective countries.

In the No. 1 spot, the Bantams' Baset Chaudhry took down sophomore Colin West, 9-2, 9-6, 9-3. Individually Chaudhry ranks second in the nation while West ranks sixth. West hadn’t lost a game all season until yesterday’s match.

“Colin played really great, he just came up short,” Bajwa said. “It was much closer than expected.”

At the No. 2 slot, Crimson freshman Richard Hill faced the nation’s fifth-ranked player Gustav Detter, who overwhelmed the rookie 9-0, 9-0, 9-1.

DiSesa was the only Harvard player to win a game. The junior evened up the No. 3 match against Manek Mathur with a 9-6 win in the second game but then dropped the next two.

Junior Niko Hrdy had one of the closest contests of the day at the No. 5 level against Parth Sharma. Hrdy held strong but dropped close games in a 10-9, 10-8, 9-5 loss.

The Crimson lost the rest of its matches in straight games.

“We expected a tough match,” Bajwa said. “It still gives us a good rehearsal.”

For West, DiSesa, Hill, Hrdy, and freshman Reed Endresen the individual match losses were their firsts of the season.

“We wanted to do the best we could,” Bajwa said. “Regardless of the scores, half of the team did that.”

Harvard has the history of being one of the premier squash programs in the country, but in the last ten years Trinity has dominated college squash. Last season the Crimson provided an adequate battle for the Bantams, but still fell in a nail-bitter, 5-4.

“In the last eight years we’ve lost 5-4 three times and we’ve always competed and done well against them,” Bajwa said. “It’s a rivalry.”

Rust may have been a factor in last night’s match-up since Harvard had not competed since December 9. Trinity, on the other hand, was fresh off its victory at last week’s NESCAC championship.

The Crimson will look to shake off the tough defeat and rebound against league foes Penn and Princeton this weekend.

“I expect to win against Penn and use it as a stepping stone for the Princeton match the next day,” Bajwa said.

—Staff writer Jake I. Fisher can be reached at jifisher@fas.harvard.edu.

Tags