While you may still be in holiday mode, Harvard athletes are in the midst of a busy January filled with plenty of activity. Read on for a preview of five upcoming games that are sure to be exciting and crucial to rest of the season.
On January 13, the Harvard men’s squash team (6-0, 1-0 Ivy) will visit Princeton hoping to defeat the defending national champions. The Tigers dismantled Trinity College at last year’s CSA national tournament to break the Bantams 13-year long hold on the title. Princeton was also victorious against the Crimson last season, halting a 10-game win streak last January as the Tigers won, 5-4. One can expect an exciting match at the No. 1 position between Harvard junior Ali Farag and Princeton senior Todd Harrity. Farag captured the CSA individual title in 2012 while Harrity won it in 2011, becoming the first American in over 21 years to do so. This year, both teams enter the contest undefeated; only one squad can leave retaining a perfect record in this critical conference matchup.
4. Women’s Squash at Princeton
Last season, a showdown with Princeton saw the No. 1 Harvard women’s squash team edge the Tigers, 5-4. The contest was one of just two 5-4 matches for the Crimson all season. On the verge of losing an undefeated record, then-freshman Haley Mendez was down, 2-0, in the No. 4 position but came from behind, taking the final three games to win the tie-breaking match. This year, Harvard (3-0, 1-0 Ivy) will arrive at Princeton Jan. 13 hoping to prevail once again over a talented Tigers squad led by co-captain Julie Cerullo, who is undefeated at the No. 1 position this season. Cerullo lost, 3-0, at No. 1 to then-freshman Amanda Sobhy last year and fell to her again in the national individual semifinals as Sohby ultimately took the top prize. During a November scrimmage, the Crimson yet again squeezed out a win over Princeton, 5-4. Can they do it again next week?
3. Women’s Basketball vs. Dartmouth
After going through an up-and-down slate of challenging non-conference opponents, the Harvard women’s basketball team will finally open Ivy League play at home against Dartmouth Jan. 12. The Crimson (9-5) is coming off two strong wins against Massachusetts and Rhode Island and a difficult tournament in San Diego, where it fell to Oklahoma State and SMU. Last year, Harvard downed the Big Green in both matchups. The first game saw then-sophomore Christine Clark notch her second career double-double with 17 points, including a perfect 7-for-7 at the charity stripe, and 10 rebounds as the Crimson won, 71-63. During the second meeting, Emma Golen notched a career-high 21 points as the team closed out the regular season with a victory, 74-69. Harvard would go on to win its first game in the WNIT in program history. This year’s squad has seen strong performances by Clark, the leading scorer with 16.6 points per game, and Golen, who stands atop the Ivy League in three-point percentage.
2. Men’s Hockey at Yale
Earlier this season, the Bulldogs came to Cambridge and dealt the Harvard men’s hockey team its first loss of the season, 5-1. Last season, the Crimson met Yale during the quarterfinals of the ECAC tournament, dropping the first game but taking the next two to make it to the tourney finals. The Crimson (4-7-1, 3-5 ECAC), which hasn’t won a game since beating Cornell Nov. 16, will travel to New Haven Jan. 18 hoping to get back on track. The squad has been plagued by a lack of offensive pressure, converting on just five of its 49 power play attempts this season. On the other side, the Yale team (7-4-3, 3-3-1 ECAC) registers over 35 shots per game, six more than Harvard does. The game, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network, will be another important ECAC matchup. After recent conference losses to Princeton and Quinnipiac, the Crimson will look to regain momentum at the midway point of the season.
1. Men’s Basketball at Dartmouth
With 2011-2012 as a banner season in the history of Harvard basketball, all eyes are on this new Crimson team as it opens it Ivy League season in Hanover Jan. 12. The squad, which went 8-5 in non-conference play, has already topped major D1 teams California and Boston College thanks to major improvements by sophomore wing Wesley Saunders, who went from an average of 3.3 points per game last season to leading the Ivy League with 16.2 points per game this season, and the efforts of rookie point guard Siyani Chambers. Chambers, who was named to the Bob Cousy Award watch list, ranks first in the Ivy League in assists and recorded his first career double-double Jan. 5 against Rice. The Crimson, which beat Dartmouth in both contests last season, will meet a Big Green team that has lost its last seven games and whose top two scorers both average under 11 points per game. Harvard will need to contain 6’9” sophomore forward Gabas Maldunas, who put up 15 points on the Crimson during their first meeting in 2012, as it seeks its first conference win.