With an undefeated Ivy League regular season on the line, the No. 1 Harvard men’s squash team set out to an early 4-0 lead against the defending national champions, No. 8 Yale. However, that scoreline was no indication as to where the match would end up.
As senior Dylan Murray, junior Bradley Smith, and co-captain Bryan Koh each went down in consecutive fashion at the seventh, second, and sixth positions, respectively, momentum shifted drastically towards the Bulldogs (8-6, 5-2 Ivy League). It was up to freshman Saadeldin Abouaish and sophomore Alexi Gosset to put an end to the loss streak and clinch the match winning fifth victory for the Crimson. Gosset did just that, besting his opponent, 3-0, in a drawn out three game bout.
“We knew that Yale wasn’t going to give it away easily today,” co-captain Devin McLaughlin said. “They’re a strong team with a bunch of experienced players, so we didn’t take anything for granted even when we were up 4-0. They clawed their way back to 4-4, but our number nine Alexi Gosset was able to seal the deal for us.”
With the 5-4 victory in hand, Harvard (11-1, 7-0 Ivy) claimed sole possession of the Ancient Eight title by posting its second undefeated Ivy season in the past three years. Earlier in the weekend, the Crimson had clinched at least a share of the title after its 8-1 win over No. 20 Brown (3-9, 0-7 Ivy).
HARVARD 5, YALE 4
Harvard was missing one of its most consistent performers in its match against Yale on Sunday at the Murr Center, as junior David Ryan went down with an illness earlier in the day. The players below the Dublin, Ireland native performed soundly in his absence, going 3-2 on the day.
When it counted, the contest’s final result came down to Gosset and Abouaish. Thrust into the ladder as a result of Ryan’s aforementioned illness, Gosset performed admirably. The Ontario, Canada native executed coolly under the pressure of needing a match win, as victory never seemed to be out of the question after his dominant first game. Gosset ultimately achieved a solid tally, 11-2, 11-8, 11-9.
Today was an example of our ability to compete when things didn't go to plan,” freshman Timmy Brownell said. “We lost a top player to illness right before the Yale match, but our number ten player Alexi Gosset stepped up and clinched the match and the Ivy League title in a very impressive performance.”
At the first position, Abouaish played quality shots throughout his match, but the rookie was unable to best his older competitor in a three-game loss. With the result, Abouaish completed his rookie campaign at the ever-difficult top slot with an 8-4 record.
Led by decisive play from McLaughlin, Brownell, junior Madhav Dhingra, and freshman Sean Hughes, the Crimson sprinted out to a quick lead. Hughes, Ryan’s replacement at the fifth position, was able to grind his way to an 11-7, 11-3, 11-9 victory against hard-hitting Bulldogs junior Max Martin. Brownell and McLaughlin also bested their opponents in simple 3-0 victories, while Dhingra took four games to put away his challenger, 3-1.
Still slightly hampered an injury to his right calf, Murray was the first Harvard player to concede defeat. Playing at the eighth position, the senior fought his way to a fourth game after having lost the first two sets, 11-7, 11-9. His competitor proved to be too much for Murray, as he subsequently lost the fourth by an 11-7 score.
Smith and Koh successively followed Murray to defeat. Playing consistent, methodical squash in his contest at the sixth position, Koh couldn’t seem to match the fire of his competitor when it counted, ultimately losing three consecutive tight sets to Bulldogs junior Thomas Kingshott.
Smith also suffered a three game loss, 11-6, 13-11, 11-2. The junior got into more of a rhythm in the second game of his match, but couldn’t break through late in the second and ultimately faded in the third.
HARVARD 8, BROWN 1
The Crimson’s match against the Bears at the Pizzitola Squash Courts in Providence, R.I. on Friday was largely a routine affair by comparison. Harvard easily took the top eight matches with each of its players in those positions on the ladder handily besting their opponents, 3-0. The Crimson’s lone loss came from its ninth position player, as senior Gordon Michas and Brown senior Alexander Baldock went down to the wire in a five-gamer.
“Against Brown, I think our team played very professionally,” McLaughlin said. “While on paper we were the stronger team, no one underestimated their opponents and it was all business out on the court, so we were happy with the result.”
Both coming off triumphs against Cornell on Sunday, Gosset and junior Mandela Patrick were again among Harvard victors. Abouaish, Brownell, Ryan, Hughes, Koh, and McLaughlin also put in dominant performances at their respective positions to set the match’s final result.
With a season goal of claiming the Ivy League title having been completed, the Crimson turns it attention to CSA Team Nationals next weekend, where it hopes to claim its first Potter Cup since the 2013-2014 season and the 32nd national championship in the program’s storied history.
“Heading into the final week of the season we're going to try to stay healthy and fit for the nationals, but regardless of the eventual outcome, this is a great team and we've had a tremendous season thus far,” Brownell said.
Team of the Year, Runner-Up: Men's SquashThe Harvard men’s squash team executed a nearly flawless season: not only did the No. 1 Crimson (18-0, 7-0 Ivy) go undefeated in the regular season and go on to secure the national title with three 9-0 wins, but senior Ali Farag also captured the individual national crown.
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