Men’s squash gets lone win out of four weekend matches

by Emily Wechsler | 2/4/15 6:01pm

The men’s squash team earned their first win over Cornell University since the 2007-2008 season this Sunday, finishing with a 5-4 victory in a four-match weekend at the Berry Squash Courts. The women would not fare as well, falling to the Big Red 8-1. The men’s and women’s teams faced Columbia University on Saturday, but ultimately lost both matches. The No. 11 men (4-6, 1-4) fell to No. 4 Columbia 7-2, and the No. 7 women (4-6, 0-5) fell to No. 9 Columbia 6-3.

The men earned their win against Cornell early in the match, going up 5-1 after the first two rounds of action. Brian Giegerich ’18 secured the win in five games after being down 2-0, cheered on by teammates and fans. Dartmouth’s home courts were loud with family, friends and other spectators who had come for two days of top-flight action.

Head coach Hansi Wiens said he thought the fans helped the men to beat Cornell, especially in the tight matches.

“Kyle Martino [’16] won 12-10 in the fifth [game],” he said. “I think [the fans] really helped us a lot.”

The win keeps the Big Green’s top-eight hopes alive.

“It would be a big deal,” Wiens said. “I believe it, and we work for this.”

Wiens praised all five athletes who contributed to the team win: Martino, Giegerich, James Fisch ’16, Alexander Greer ’16 and John Harvey ’18. He noted that Fisch in particular had an “outstanding performance,” and that Martino and Giegerich played well in their close five-game wins.

Greer, “overpowered his opponent,” Wiens said. “He was far too strong for him, really made him look not so good.”

The men faced a strong Columbia team Saturday, and though only two players were able to secure wins, Wiens seemed pleased with the individual players’ performances. Greer, too, felt that the result was “big” for the Big Green, particularly because several athletes had close matches. Though Greer did not win his match, he used the opportunity to learn from his opponent, freshman Osama Khalifa.

“He beat me pretty handily, but we actually had a great time playing [and] played actually a few games afterwards,” Greer said. “Anytime I can be on court with guys of that caliber, you want to play your best, and also just learn as much as you can.”

Harvey, who returned to the lineup this week after missing matches due to injury, earned his first of two wins this weekend in the first round of matches. Glen Brickman ’17 secured the second win in the last round.

Fisch and Michael Mistras ’15 pushed their opponents to five games before falling.

Though the women had less success in their matches, many were close, particularly in the women’s faceoff with Columbia. Jacqueline Barnes ’17 lost her match on a tough let call. Helena Darling ’15, Oona Morris ’15 and Zainab Molani ’18 secured wins for the Big Green.

“Outstanding performance by [Darling],” Wiens said. “She went in there, she knew there was pressure — she’s a senior and a captain — she went in there and just won three-love. A really, really strong performance.”

Wiens also cited Morris’s five-game match as a particularly strong win.

“We had some tight matches we couldn’t quite pull through,” Wiens said. “It was just not our day yesterday, or it felt that way.”

Lydie McKenzie ’16 fell in her matches this weekend, coming just shy of victory in the fifth set to her Columbia opponent.

“In our matches against Stanford and George Washington [Universities], we had a lot that could have gone either way that went our way, which was nice, but this time we had a lot of things that just didn’t go our way,” McKenzie said of the weekends’ matches. “It was tough, but there were still a lot of great things.”

Two of those great things she cited in particular were Sarah Caughey ’15,who took her match to five with some remarkable play that included taking a dive for the ball, as well as Molani, who won her matches against both Columbia and Cornell.

Though losing close matches could be demoralizing, McKenzie said it encourages her to work harder to prepare for the next match.

Wiens also seemed pleased with the players’ preparation for the last few weeks of the season.

“We’re peaking at the right time, with three weeks to go,” he said. “We’re playing the best squash.”

Wiens said this season has been different from others because more matches have been tighter.

“We’ve never really had that before,” Wiens said. “Different teams have beat each other, [and] our players have much more close competition.”

He said the close competition brings out the best in the team, and that the pressure on the players is diminishing as they continue to practice more.

Both teams will face Brown University this Friday on the Berry Squash Courts at 5 p.m. before hitting the road to face Yale University at noon on Sunday.

He said the close competition brings out the best in the team, and that the pressure on the players is diminishing as they continue to practice more.

Both teams will face Brown University this Friday on the Berry Squash Courts at 5 p.m. before hitting the road to face Yale University at noon on Sunday.