Nearly a week after suffering its first defeat of the season to No. 4 Columbia, No. 2 Harvard men’s squash bounced back in dominant fashion. Eight of the nine matches played over the weekend were quick three-game sweeps, and in each of those bouts, the result was never really in question upon completion of the first game.
Facing off against No. 12 Western Ontario for the fifteenth time in team history, the Crimson (5-1, 2-1 Ivy) routinely took care of business at the Murr Center by sweeping their Canadian opponent, 9-0. With the win, Harvard extended its current win streak against the Mustangs (7-2, 0-0 Ontario University Athletics Conference) to fourteen straight matches.
The 9-0 triumph was the Crimson’s fifth such victory of the season, having bested No. 10 Dartmouth, No. 22 MIT, No. 3 St. Lawrence, and No. 15 Cornell in similar fashion. According to members of the squad, the win was an important step in recovering from last weekend’s road loss.
“I think today’s match was an important match for us to bounce back mentally from Columbia,” freshman Sam Scherl said. “I think [the team’s performance against] Columbia was unfortunate as many players had an off day, and it’s easy to start doubting the team’s ability. However, today was really about proving to ourselves that we’re a strong team and can refocus for the rest of the season. I think everyone really increased their intensity and focus for today’s match and really wanted to show a strong performance.”
While sporting its fifth different line-up combination this season, Harvard proved that it was the better team from top to bottom. Scherl, sophomore Sean Hughes, and senior Bradley Smith energetically led the charge from the outset, each pushing around their opponents to win the first wave, 3-0. Similar steadiness was present in many of the other performances by the Crimson squad throughout the rest of the day.
“The team performed well today and we were all professional in our matches,” junior Alexi Gosset said. “Western [Ontario] has some talented players, but we had the upper hand physically. We wore down our opponents and controlled the play to get the win today.”
Gosset, a Toronto, Ontario native, made his second appearance of the season against Western Ontario. In doing so, he picked up his second three-game victory on the year—11-3, 11-6, 11-1. Sophomore Saadeldin Abouaish, freshman Adam Corcoran, co-captain Madhav Dhingra, and co-captain David Ryan took care of business with relative ease in their second and third wave matches, as well.
Of the Harvard players, only sophomore Timmy Brownell failed to blank his Mustangs opponent. At the outset, Brownell’s match at the second position seemed to be destined to finish just like the others, as he jumped out to an early lead, 11-5, 11-6, against Western Ontario sophomore Matthew Henderson. But Henderson picked up his level of play in the third game and eventually pulled even with the Belmont, Mass. native to force a fifth set. Brownell refused to let the match slip away, however, by taking over the bout in the final frame.
“Timmy had a tough match today, but battled like the warrior he is,” Gosset said. “He won the first two games without too much trouble but then his opponent started playing very well and levelled the match at 2-2. Timmy came out strong in the last game and used his experience to get the win. He hasn’t been feeling his best physically lately but is regaining confidence in his movement to get back to top form.”
After claiming such a commanding victory over another ranked team, the Crimson looks to prove to continue to perform to its self-perceived standard in the weeks ahead with the CSA Team National Championships just a month away. For Harvard, this weekend’s achievement was merely a single step in the process.
“Last week’s loss was unexpected and was a bit of a wakeup call for us,” Gosset said. “We are using it as motivation to come back stronger than ever and show all our opponents how tough we will be to beat. The team definitely wanted to make a statement today and get back on track with a good performance all around.”
—Staff writer Jackson M. Reynolds can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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