NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The No. 3 Yale men's squash team became the nation's first new No. 1 in the Dunlop Men's College Squash Rankings in 13 years in the week following their Jan. 18 upset of Trinity. Now, after a spectacular 14-1 regular season that included wins over seven team in the current top ten, the Bulldogs hope to become the first team in 13 years to assume that spot at season's end, a feat they can accomplish with a win at the CSA Team Championships this weekend at Princeton.
Their road is not an easy one: since the Elis dropped a match to the No. 2 Tigers on Feb. 4, they currently hold the No. 3 national ranking, which translates to a No. 3 seed in the eight-team "Potter Cup" (A Division) bracket. The quarterfinal matches begin Friday, and Yale will take on No. 6 Cornell in a noon start.
The Bulldogs are undoubtedly in the tougher half of the draw: with a quarterfinal victory they collide with the winner of No. 7 Dartmouth and host No. 2 Princeton, the lone blemish on the Eli schedule. If Yale wins that match, a Sunday final (perhaps a rematch against No. 1 Trinity) would follow.
Despite the tough draw, the Bulldogs will undoubtedly be helped by the return of junior All-American Hywel Robinson to the lineup. Robinson has been out of action for the last few matches with an injury.
Robinson will play at the No. 2 position, sandwiched by classmates Kenneth Chan at No. 1 and Ricky Dodd at No. 3.
Playing the four will be senior John Roberts, the match-clinching hero in the Bulldogs' upset of Trinity. He is one of six finalists for the CSA's Skillman Award, "given annually to a senior men's squash player who has demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship during his entire college career" and "considered the Heisman Trophy" of men's college squash, according to the CSA.
Captain Ryan Down will play at No. 5, and sophomore Neil Martin will be at the No. 6 spot. Senior Robert Berner will play No. 7, just ahead of classmate Samuel Clayman, who had a clutch victory to help Yale past No. 4 Harvard last weekend.
Rounding out the Bulldog lineup will be freshman Joey Roberts at No. 9, along with sophomore Eric Caine (No. 10), and freshman Sam Schlifer (No. 11).
Last season, Yale fell to Trinity 5-4 in the Potter Cup finals, a loss they hope to avenge...again...with what would be a finals rematch if the Bulldogs can get there. But with Cornell and Princeton looming, getting there is no sure thing. Still, the Elis have made history once this season and would love to end their season the only way fitting for what has been a magical regular season: with a win.
The Bulldogs' quarterfinal action against the Big Red gets underway Friday at 12:30 pm.
Report filed by Chelsea Janes '12, Yale Sports Publicity