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Despite having the match of his career on Saturday, junior Gary Power wasn’t powerful enough to lead the No. 3 Harvard men’s squash team to a national championship.
After dropping his first two games in the semifinal against No. 2 Princeton, Power came back to sweep the next three and propel the Crimson into the final round.
It wasn’t enough.
Twenty-four hours later, the Crimson fell to Trinity for the second time this season in New Haven as Power dropped his second close match in two days.
In Harvard’s first appearance in the final round of the Potter Cup since its second place finish in 2004-2005, the Crimson couldn’t hold on against an undefeated Bantams squad. Trinity won its 14th championship in 15 years, after being unseated last year for the first time in 13 years by Princeton.
Finishing the season with a 17-3 record, the Crimson will look to make another run at the title next season and win its first championship since 1998.
“[I have] mixed feelings,” junior Ali Farag said. “I think the whole season we had the goal of winning and also we persevered and the final went either way. This will make us nothing but stronger and harder to beat next year.”
TRINITY 6, HARVARD 3
Despite jumping out to a lead against the Bantams, the Crimson dropped contests in the fourth through eighth slots and left defeated.
“Trinity is a lot better prepared than any other team,” Farag said. “They took the title home, but they were more lucky and determined today. I think it could have gone either way, but we couldn’t get the two matches that we need.”
Farag swept his match, 3-0, in the top spot and held Bantam junior Reinhold Hergeth to five points or less in each game. Harvard also saw victories from No. 3 junior Nigel Koh and No. 9 senior Alexander Ma.
“It meant a lot to be trusted by my teammates and go up and represent Harvard in such an important match and by all the alums who haven’t been in that place in so long,” Ma said. “Harvard has a rich tradition in squash and as a senior I made it my goal to reward everyone for their hard work.”
Playing in the No. 4 spot, Power came back from a first game loss to take the next two against Trinity’s sophomore Karan Malik, outscoring his opponent 22-13. But the senior couldn’t keep his streak going, dropping the final two games and taking a 3-2 loss, his third of the season.
HARVARD 5, PRINCETON 4
Despite Farag losing the first match of his collegiate career, the Crimson held the Tigers at bay to win the semifinal round of the Potter Cup.
Playing in the No. 1 spot, 2011 national champion Todd Harrity handed Farag a 3-1 loss. But Harvard was able to overcome the loss and went into the final match tied up, where Power took over and beat Princeton’s Dylan Ward.
“I think I did pretty well and overall played better than last year, but I could have done better,” Farag said of his loss. “It’s good so that next time I know how to prepare better for the match and approach it in a more professional way.”
The win over Princeton was Harvard’s first of the season. A month ago, the Tigers beat the Crimson, 5-4, at home and snapped the team’s nine-game win streak.
“It’s kind of funny because last time they beat us 5-4 and we beat them 5-4,” Farag said. “The four guys who won last time are the four guys who lost. The way we approached it was much more professional and especially Gary Power putting him out there to win. That was amazing.”
HARVARD 6, ROCHESTER 3
Opening the weekend with a strong showing, Harvard came back after first round losses to defeat the Yellow Jackets and move on to the semifinals.
The Crimson won each match by at least two games and had four 3-0 sweeps.
Harvard looked to its seniors to clinch the big wins, as Power defeated his opponent in the No. 4 spot and co-captain Zeke Scherl held on for a 3-1 win in the No. 7 spot.
“We’ve got a ton of great juniors and sophomores on the team and they are definitely going to go into next year hungry for a national championship,” Ma said. “We have a ton of young talent and I think that next year we will be favorites for the national title.”
—Staff writer David Freed contributed reporting for this story.
—Staff writer Hope Schwartz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @hopeschwartz16.
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