For the Harvard men’s squash team, tallying two more wins this weekend over ranked opponents was just another accomplishment for a squad that has yet to be defeated this season.
The No. 2 Crimson (11-0, 5-0 Ivy) faced No. 8 Cornell on Saturday afternoon and No. 12 Columbia on Sunday on the road and came away with a pair of 8-1 victories.
HARVARD 8, COLUMBIA 1
The only loss Harvard suffered against the Lions (6-4, 2-3) was at the number three position. After Columbia’s Mohamed Abdel Maksoud and Crimson freshman Dylan Murray split the first two games, Murray forfeited the match due to sickness to give Abdel Maksoud the win.
Harvard co-captain Gary Power defeated Joshua Sehkar in the fourth spot, 11-3, 11-7, 11-5. The Crimson’s fifth and sixth position players, sophomore Nick Hopcroft and senior Thomas Mullaney, cruised to take down their opponents in three games.
Playing in the second position, co-captain Brandon McLaughlin endured a tough, five-set match against the Lions’ Rishi Tandon. The score was tied at two sets apiece in a back-and-forth exchange, with Tandon winning the first and third games and McLaughlin coming back to tie the match in the second and fourth. In a tight fifth set, McLaughlin outlasted his opponent to earn the win, 11-8.
“The Columbia team is a building program,” Harvard coach Mike Way said. “The coach there has done a fantastic job. They’re very tough at the top end of the team, and the match of the weekend I would say was Brandon McLaughlin who won his match today in an absolute thriller.”
In the seventh, eighth, and ninth spots, junior Tyler Olson, sophomore Matt Roberts, and sophomore Sam Goldberg helped bring the Crimson to victory with three wins against their respective Columbia opponents.
In 2012, Columbia’s Ramit Tandon shared the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award with Harvard senior Ali Farag, the Crimson’s number one player. Only two Ivy League players have defeated Tandon in his three-year career, with Farag being one of them. In this year’s showdown, Farag came away with the victory in four games, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, and 11-3.
“The guy I played, Tandon, is a great player,” Farag said. “We played each other in the finals of the individual nationals my sophomore year, so he’s obviously a very good player. I was happy I won in a four-game match.”
HARVARD 8, CORNELL 1
The Crimson came out on top against another Ivy League foe this weekend, beating the Big Red (6-5, 3-2) with only one dropped match.
Mullaney, Olson, and Roberts led the way by outplaying their Cornell opponents from start to finish, each winning their respective matches three sets to none.
Freshman Bryan Koh and junior Nigel Koh had to endure tougher bouts in order to emerge with victories of their own. Bryan faced off against Rishi Jalan in the sixth spot and earned a four-game win after dropping the second set. Nigel defeated Cornell’s Gustav Runersjo in five games to win in the fifth position, outlasting his opponent by an 11-6 mark in the final game.
“Cornell is always a team where we have very tough matches,” Way said. “We’ve beaten them in the last few years, but the score never reflects actually how close those matches are. It was quite a tough battle for most of the guys, and they’re delighted to come away at this time of the season with a win.”
In the number one match, Cornell’s Nicholas Sachvie could not best Farag and fell in straight sets, 11-8, 11-9, and 11-4. Murray and Power also notched two wins for the Crimson, with Murray winning in four sets and Power needing only three.
The sole loss of the day for Harvard came from McLaughlin, who was unable to defeat Aditya Jagtap in the second position. McLaughlin won the first game, 11-3, but Jagtap was quick to answer and snagged the next three sets, 11-5, 11-4, and 11-9.
The Crimson has assembled an undefeated season 25 times in the program’s history. This year, Farag has been undefeated in the number one spot. Hopcroft, Bryan and Nigel Koh, Mullaney, Olson, and Power are all tied with eight wins apiece. In the 11 contests played this season, Crimson players have gone 95-4 in individual matches.
“We trained so hard the whole season, and it shows in the matches now,” Farag said. “Every single match we learn more and more about how to beat our opponent, and I think this weekend really showed how strong we are.”
—Crimson staff writer Emily T. Wang can be reached at email@example.com.