In its final Ivy League matchup of the season, the No. 2 Harvard men’s squash team (15-0, 7-0 Ivy) took down No. 19 Brown (4-14, 0-7), 9-0, on Sunday afternoon at the Murr Athletic Center. With the victory, the Crimson completed its season sweep of the Ancient Eight. The Crimson took home the Ivy League title for the second straight season.
In all but one match in the lineup, Harvard swept its Brown opponents in three consecutive games. In the previous 23 Brown-Harvard matchups, the Crimson has managed to come out on top each time and the past five contests, the Crimson has shut out the Bears without a single dropped match.
“Squash is one of those games where if there’s a discrepancy in levels it becomes obvious who will be likely to win,” co-captain Gary Power said. “The best teams and the best players tend to be more likely to win than in other sports. Between Yale on Fridayand Brown today, it was more thinking about how to recover from tough matches, and preparation for more tough matches in the future.”
For the fifth line player, freshman Bryan Koh, victory did not come so easily. After winning each of the first two games by a two-point margin, Koh went on to drop the next two games to tie the match, 2-2. After a hard-fought fifth game, Koh managed to reverse his losing streak and prevailed against Brown’s Alex Baldock with a 12-10 final game score for the 3-2 win.
After the match, coach Michael Way said that the final margin did not properly reflect the competitiveness of the matches, citing Koh’s contest as an example.
“[Bryan Koh] had a very tough match to play because his opponent was very strong,” Way said. “I think the scoreline does absolutely no justice to how good [Brown’s] team really is, and Bryan’s match went right down the wire to 12-10 in the fifth game, so it was very close. The scoreline doesn’t reflect it, but some of the guys still had to work to get the job done.”
In the top four spots, co-captain Brandon McLaughlin, Power, and classmates Ali Farag and Nigel Koh shut out their opponents, 3-0, to finish off Brown. On the year, the four have combined for a record of 45-4. In McLaughlin’s match, the co-captain dropped only eight points en route to the fifth win for the Crimson, clinching the Harvard victory.
After Power’s first loss in the Yale game, his match against Brown’s Oliver Booth started a new winning streak for the senior. This was Power’s 12th victory this season, and he is now tied with Farag for the second most wins on the Harvard squad this season.
“The game was pretty straightforward,” Power said. “I think winning the Ivy title was just a sign of how well we played in the other matches such as at Trinity and Yale. It was good to bounce for the win back since I lost on Friday for the first time this season, which I wasn’t happy about.”
In the sixth spot, sophomore Nick Hopcroft defeated the Brown Bears’ Tod Holberton in straight sets to bump his season record to 11-1. Hopcroft prevented his opponent from scoring a single point in the second game and dropped only seven points overall.
At the seventh line, senior Tom Mullaney won in straight sets, outplaying Brown’s Nick Talbott and shutting him out completely in the third game, 11-0. Mullaney leads the Crimson with 13 victories on the season, playing anywhere between the sixth and ninth lines for the team.
At the eighth and ninth positions, sophomores Matt Roberts and Sam Goldberg got the opportunity to play in matches that counted towards the final tally. Both Roberts and Goldberg secured wins to contribute to the championship game win.
“[The Ivy title presentation] was nice,” Power said. “But I think the Ivy title is something we would have been more disappointed not to win, and right now we’re more focused on the national title for next weekend. It’s great to win the Ivy title, but the title we want is next weekend.”
The Crimson’s perfect record marks the 25th undefeated season in Harvard men’s squash program history. In nine of its 15 matches this season, the Crimson did not relinquish a single game. By comparison, Harvard had 10 9-0 victories in 20 contests last season.
“I think I am as proud of their victories and accomplishments as I am of the way they handled themselves in their victories,” Way said. “They carried themselves well in not just a professional manner, but with such modesty. They’re respectful, and I just think it speaks volumes in the way they handle themselves, especially in the tougher matches.”
—Staff writer Emily T. Wang can be reached at email@example.com.
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