NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale men's squash team launched the 2012-13 season at the Ivy Scrimmages this weekend, winning both matches Sunday to make it to the finals before falling to No. 3 Harvard 5-4.
The Bulldog men, coming off of a 15-3 (6-1 Ivy) season in which the team finished second in the Ivy League, took their first round match 7-2 over No. 8 Dartmouth before avenging their lone regular-season Ivy loss with a 5-4 win over No. 1 Princeton in the semifinals. The win over Princeton is especially important, as the Tigers are the defending Potter Cup and Ivy League champions. The win was not easy for the Bulldogs, as the Tigers went ahead early, but in what Head Coach Dave Talbott described as a "barn-burner", the Bulldogs came back from behind to earn a 5-4 victory and toss their hats into the ring of national championship contenders.
The Bulldogs were ranked third last season before falling to No. 6 Cornell in the first round of the Potter Cup, with the loss putting the Bulldogs at No. 6 themselves. However, this Bulldog team has proven that it can beat anybody, with last season's colossal victory over Trinity and now the win over Princeton highlighting the quality of the Yale roster.
In the final, No. 3 Harvard came out on top with a 5-4 victory that Yale was very much in the mix for. In the top spot, Ali Farag, the nation's No. 1 player, topped No. 16 Kenneth Chan, a senior 11-4, 11-5, 11-4. At No. 2, senior captain Hywel Robinson, ranked No. 30, knocked off No. 14 Brandon McLaughlin in four games. At No. 3, another senior, Richard Dodd, ranked No. 23, took the first two sets 11-5 and 11-4 against No. 25 Gary Power before Power settled in for a marathon third game. Neither Dodd nor Power could get any separation from the other until more than thirty points had been played, with Dodd eventually triumphing 17-15 to take the match.
In the fourth spot, freshman Sam Fenwick got his first taste of collegiate squash with an extremely close match at No. 4 against No. 44 Tyler Olsen. Fenwick took the first and third games, but the first, fourth and decisive fifth belonged to Olsen. In the fifth spot, another Yale freshman, Zachary Leman, fell to No. 41 Nigel Coh in four games. At No. 6, No. 43 ranked junior Neil Martin dropped the first game to No. 77 Zeke Scherl 11-9, but did not allow Scherl to win more than five points in any subsequent game.
At No. 7, sophomore Joseph Roberts, ranked No. 127, lost to No. 53 ranked Tom Mullaney 11-6, 11-5, 11-3. In the eighth spot, No. 96 ranked junior Eric Caine played the match of the day against No. 59 Julian Kerby. Kerby, one of the nation's No. 2 recruit last year, got off to an 11-5, 11-7 lead early, but Caine, a walk-on, battled back steadily, taking the third and fourth games 11-9 before winning the fifth 11-8 to win the match. Finally, at No. 9, another Yale freshman, Pehlaaj Bajwa, fell to No. 55 Jason Michas, who won the match by a margin of 11-6, 11-6, 11-2.
Yale will be back in action November 30th against Franklin and Marshall, but will not get a chance to face Harvard again until February 10th, when the Bulldogs will go to Harvard for the final match of their Ivy League season.
Report by Calvin Bohn '14, Yale Sports Publicity