Squash: Women clinch 6th Ivy League title, No. 1 men upended by No. 5 Cornell
In a league that contains four of the five top-ranked men’s squash programs in the country, there were bound to be a lot of close matches this season. Princeton always seemed to come out on top of these nail-biters, posting 5-4 victories against both Harvard and Yale. But the Tigers were on the other end of the line on Friday as they lost 4-5 to the Cornell squad, which Princeton beat in last years National Championship semifinal.
Princeton will share the Ivy crown with the winner of the match between Harvard and Yale, which was postponed on Sunday due to snow. The make-up date is still to be determined. While both the Crimson and the Bulldogs lost to the Tigers, they have gone undefeated against the rest of the league.
With only three players on court at a time, Cornell took each of the first two shifts 2-1. As Princeton sophomore Taylor Osborne got Princeton the first win of the match at the No. 3 spot, losses by sophomore Tayler Tutrone at No. 6 and freshman Mike LeBlanc at No. 9 gave the Big Red the lead. Likewise, in the second shift, a victory by freshman Vivek Dinodia at No. 8 was nullified by Cornell victories against senior Steve Harrington at No. 5 and sophomore Sam Kang at No. 2. While Kang had a 2-1 game lead, Cornell’s Aditya Jagtap was able to come back for a momentum-swinging victory for the Big Red.
The match was decided by Cornell’s Brian Keating, who defeated sophomore David Hoffman in games that all went down to the wire.
“We played well on Friday,” Head Coach Bob Callahan ’77 said. “There are a lot of good teams in the Ivy League. We were very fortunate to beat Yale and Harvard. Cornell is right up there with them. It was tied at the end of the fifth game against Yale and Harvard, and we won those matches. We were tied going into the end against Cornell, and it didn’t go our way.”
The Tigers came back on Sunday from the crushing defeat to trounce a Columbia team that was outplayed on all fronts. Princeton won all of its matches and only dropped two total games over the course of the day.
“We knew we were favored, but it was important to come out businesslike and ready to play a Columbia team that has really come on. It was good for [the Tigers] to get the disappointment of Friday night out of their system,” Callahan said.
Kang rebounded from his tough loss on Friday night to beat Mohamed Abdel Maskoud 3-1. Kang appeared to have some nerves in the first game, which he dropped, but gained confidence as the match went on.
The most exciting match of the day was between senior Todd Harrity and Columbia’s Ramit Tandon at the No. 1 spot. Tandon, who beat Harrity in the Collegiate Squash Association semifinal last season, was outmatched yesterday, as Harrity played a much more disciplined game than the last time the two met. Harrity kept his errors to a minimum and stuck to his game plan.
“Ramit is so talented,” Callahan said. “Todd did not try to match him. He can’t match him. He had to be more basic and simple, and he did that today. There are a few really great players in college squash, and we got to see two of them play today.”
Princeton’s highly anticipated final regular-season match is at home this Saturday against an unbeaten Trinity team (14-0). The Tigers beat the Bantams in the National Championship final last season. It was the first time Trinity had not won the National Championship in 13 years.
The women, on the other hand, won their sixth Ivy League title this weekend, their first since 2009.
The Tigers started the weekend with an 8-1 win over No. 6 Cornell. The match had potential to be close, as Cornell was close to upsetting No. 4 Trinity in January, but Princeton took the match 8-1. In the first shift, junior Lexi Saunders and sophomore Hallie Dewey got easy wins at the No. 6 and No. 9 spots respectively. Sophomore Nicole Bunyan, however, lost a 2-1 lead to Cornell’s Jamie Laird, leading to Princeton’s only game loss of the match. Freshman Tara Harrington pulled ahead of Cornell’s Lindsay Seginson after splitting the first two games at the No. 8 spot, and sophomore Alex Lunt (No. 5) also contributed a win. Freshman Rachel Leizman (No. 4) won her match to earn Princeton the win over the Big Red, and senior Julie Cerullo (No. 1) and junior Alex Sawin (No. 7) finished out the match with 3-1 and 3-0 wins, respectively.
The Tigers then returned to Jadwin for their regular season finale against a shorthanded Columbia squad. The Tigers dominated the match, never at risk of dropping a game as they cruised to a 9-0 victory. Columbia had to forfeit the match at the nine spot due to its insufficient number of players, resulting in an automatic victory for Dewey. The victory clinched the Ivy title for the squad on Senior Day, making it the first time this year’s group of seniors got to hold the Ivy crown.
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