Men's Squash: No. 4 Princeton loses season finale to No. 1 Trinity
Princeton’s three wins came from its top three players. Senior Todd Harrity and sophomores Samuel Kang and Tyler Osborne all won their matches against Trinity’s top players. Harrity and Osborne swept their games, while Kang lost the first but won the next three to clinch a victory.
“We thought we could do well in numbers one, two and three, which we were able to do, and number four, [junior Dylan Ward], hadn’t yet lost this season but lost [in a best-of-five match] today,” head coach Bob Callahan ’77 said.
It was Ward who clinched Princeton’s fifth win in the 5-4 victory against Harvard last month.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the middle and bottom of the lineup did not fare as well as the top three.
“We knew it was going to be a tough match yesterday,” Harrity said. “Trinity’s team is very deep, so our guys in the middle and bottom of the lineup had especially tough matches. I think we came out ready to play yesterday, but unfortunately there were a few key matches that we lost.”
“We weren’t sure where the fifth win would come from, but we hoped someone would have a good day,” Callahan said. “We needed Trinity to have a few guys not play well, but they were good. That’s the reason they’ve won so many national titles.”
Senior Steve Harrington and freshman Michael LeBlanc lost their matches in four games, while sophomores Taylor Tutrone and David Hoffman and freshman Vivek Dinodia lost in three.
“He’s normally been playing at the eight or nine position this year, so to move up to seven today was a very tough challenge,” Callahan said of Dinodia.
The Tigers will have a chance to play Trinity again next weekend at the CSA Team Championships in New Haven. Princeton will enter with the goal of not only evening the season series with Trinity but also defending its national championship.
Callahan listed several areas on which the Tigers need to work this week to make that happen.
“It’s important that we do a better job of getting a good start,” he said. “Some of the matches, we got down early in the first game. It’s so important to win the first game, because then you put the pressure on the opponent to come back. We need to do a better job of trying to stay in front of our opponent and hold the middle of the court, and just be ready.”
Princeton will not enter the tournament ranked No. 1, a spot it has held this year, but Harrity sees that as a good thing.
“Rather than being the No. 1 team that everyone wants to beat, we are the challengers,” he said. “I think that will help us play our best. We all know that to do well next weekend at Nationals, we all need to play our very best. No one can have an off day because we are so close with Yale, Harvard, Cornell and Trinity, and the difference between winning and losing will be one person not playing to his potential.”
Callahan also emphasized that this was only a regular season loss. The important matches will be next weekend.
“We’d love to be in the finals playing Trinity, a week from tomorrow, up at Yale — that’s our goal,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to train hard for this week. Next weekend is the big deal.”
Princeton, the reigning national champion, “has accomplished much more than anyone expected” this year, said Callahan. The team graduated many starters last year, and as a result this year’s team is very young. In fact, there are just three seniors — Harrity, Harrington, and Chris Greco.
“[Other teams] expected us to be in the middle of the pack,” Callahan said. “If we can do well next weekend, we would have accomplished so much with such a young team.”
The Tigers will play in the quarterfinals on Friday, and if they win they could potentially play Harvard in the semifinals. If Trinity also wins its side of the draw, there could be a rematch in the finals of last year’s national championship.
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