The No. 4 Harvard men’s squash team’s six-hour bus ride home from Ithaca, N.Y. could have felt a lot longer.
Coming off of a big win over then-No. 4 Rochester, the Crimson (13-2, 4-1 Ivy) came through once again this weekend, bumping its winning streak up to three straight matches with the road victories over No. 6 Cornell and No. 15 Columbia, 5-4 and 9-0, respectively.
HARVARD 5, CORNELL 4
In the highly anticipated matchup between two top-10 teams, the Crimson just sneaked by with a 5-4 win over Cornell (10-4, 3-2) Sunday afternoon on the Belkin Squash Courts in Ithaca, N.Y. The match was close, but clutch victories from freshmen Tyler Olsen and Julian Kirby helped seal a slight edge in Harvard’s favor.
“We knew [the contest at] Cornell was a big match,” said junior co-captain Jason Michas, who played at the No. 9 spot for the Crimson. “They were one point behind us in the rankings [last year], and we knew they got a really strong recruiting class this year. We knew they were a good team.”
The Big Red took an early lead, with Harvard dropping four of its first five matches. But Olsen—playing at the No. 5 spot for Harvard—picked up the slack. Despite going down, 2-1, in games, the rookie came back to win, 3-2.
“Olsen came up big for us,” Michas said. “It was a really close match.... We knew if Olsen could win that match, we could win the whole thing.”
At the No. 1 spot, sophomore Ali Farag continued his winning ways, taking his match, 3-0, and putting Harvard within a match of the Big Red.
“It was a tough match that we came out a little slow for,” co-captain Will Ahmed said. “But our…guys really played well and showed a lot of resiliency.”
Kirby won his match in four games, coming back from an 8-6 deficit in the final frame to earn the victory. That final game went into extra points, with Kirby coming away with a 12-10 win and tying the overall match score at four individual matches apiece.
Sophomore Gary Power—playing at the No. 4 spot—was left with the task of finishing off the match for Harvard.
“Power is a consistent player,” Michas said. “We are confident in him being the last guy on the court.”
Power won his match in four games, pushing the Crimson to a slight, 5-4, final edge over Cornell.
“[Both players in that final match] were hitting the ball hard, but Power weathered the storm,” Michas said. “He battled it out and pulled off that last win for us.”
With the win, Harvard extended its unbeaten streak to three games.