After emerging victorious from each of its first seven matches, winning by a combined score of 59-4, the No. 3 Harvard men’s squash team will begin the second half of its season this weekend when it travels to take on No. 13 Pennsylvania and No. 1 Princeton.
The Crimson (7-0, 1-0 Ivy) has dominated its competition so far this season. Six of its wins have been 9-0 shutouts, with the remaining decision coming as a 5-4 victory over No. 5 Rochester in early December.
But some of the toughest nationwide competition can be found in the Ivy League, and the heart of conference play is about to commence.
“Even though we’re halfway through the season, this weekend, this is when the season really begins,” Harvard coach Mike Way said. “The men have had one tough match to date…. It’s good to have a winning record and the confidence is high, but we’ve got to be tested to get deeper confidence.”
The Crimson will travel to Pennsylvania to take on the Quakers (3-2) on Saturday. Both of Penn’s two losses have been 5-4 decisions, one of which came to Williams, which Harvard defeated, 9-0, earlier this season.
The match against the Crimson will be the Quakers’ first in over a month.
Penn has achieved mixed results so far this season. Senior Danny Greenberg, who has played each match at the No. 1 position, has amassed a 3-2 record on the year. Each of the players in the next three spots is 2-3.
But the bottom half of the Quaker lineup has experienced much more success, as the No. 5 through No. 9 players have combined for an 18-7 record.
“No one takes UPenn lightly,” Way said. “UPenn’s going to be a battle. We might be favored to win on paper, but trust me, we’re going in there with the utmost respect.”
After the match with the Quakers, Harvard will make its way north to take on Princeton (4-0) in another conference showdown.
The top-ranked Tigers, who are also the defending national champions, have looked hard to beat so far this year. Although Princeton has only played four matches to date, it has won each decisively, with the closest being a 7-2 victory over Rochester.
Six players have played in the top five positions this season, and none of them have yet to experience defeat.
“I think [the Tigers will] be a tough match,” junior Tommy Mullaney said. “Princeton’s always a tough team to play, but we’ve been training hard, and I think we’re all pretty fired up. It’s definitely one of the biggest matches of our season so far.”
Senior Todd Harrity, who was the CSA individual champion in 2011 before Harvard junior Ali Farag won the title last year, leads the Tigers at the No. 1 position. Harrity is 4-0 on the season and has yet to drop a game.