Squash opens regular season with convincing road wins
The Dartmouth men's squash team showed promise of a successful season this weekend with overwhelming victories over the United States Naval Academy and George Washington University on Saturday, followed by a hard-fought win over Franklin and Marshall College on Sunday. The women's team had a similarly impressive opening weekend, sweeping Franklin and Marshall on Sunday, 9-0.
The seventh-ranked men's team (3-0) proved to be too tough for both Navy (12-1) and George Washington (3-1), as it beat Navy, 8-1, before sweeping George Washington. The losses were the first of the season for both of Dartmouth's opponents. While the final scores appeared one-sided, the Big Green had to dig deep to fend off its opponents. Number one player Chris Hanson '13 was taken to four games in both his matches, losing his first game against Navy and George Washington before rebounding to secure two wins for Dartmouth.
Luke Lee '12 and Fletcher Pease '14 both went to five games in their matches against Navy. Lee dropped his first and third games before playing a dominant fifth game to win the decider, 11-1. Pease was in a two-game hole in his match, but pushed himself to win the next three games in impressive fashion to secure the win.
"We were supposed to beat them pretty handily and we did," Lee said.
Lee admitted, however, that a strong Navy team initially caught the Big Green off guard.
"Being at their home courts with a lot of fans was difficult, and us being relaxed against the underdog didn't help us play the best game we could have," he said. "The matches against [George Washington] right afterward were much better. Most people were more comfortable with the court now and we all played a much more focused game."
Notable performances came from Stephen Wetherill '12, Brian O'Toole '12 and Robbie Maycock '13, who did not drop a single game in either of their two outings. Nick Sisodia '12 and Alex Kurth '13 both dropped just one game over the course of their two matches.
Dartmouth's freshmen also performed well. Mark Funk '15, who played at the number nine position, rebounded from a painful five-game loss against Navy by sweeping aside his George Washington counterpart in three games. Michael Mistras '15 won his exhibition match at the number 10 position against Navy in three straight games.
The Big Green traveled to Lancaster, Penn., on Sunday to play eighth-ranked Franklin and Marshall (0-2). Dartmouth grinded out a 5-4 win.
Wetherill staged an impressive comeback after he dropped his first two games by a combined five points, losing 8-11, 9-11. The senior then bounced back to win three straight games and secure the decision in favor of the Big Green.
Hanson had to play with increased intensity to overcome fellow senior All-American Gabe de Melo in five games. He trailed De Melo 2-1 after three games before surging back to earn the victory.
"This was a huge win for us because we now have a nice cushion at our sensitive spot in the national rankings," Sisodia said. "We are currently seven and only the top eight teams get to play for the national championship at the end of the year, so we are thrilled to win and are right where we need to be for the Harvard [University] match our home and Ivy opener."
That match against Harvard will be played in Hanover on Nov. 30. The Big Green suffered a tough 6-3 loss the last time it hosted the Crimson, and will look for a win to enter the winter break undefeated.
While the men's game against Franklin and Marshall went down to the wire, the women's team had no such trouble on Sunday, sweeping the Diplomats (0-2) for a comfortable 9-0 victory in the Big Green's season opener.
Dartmouth only dropped one game over the nine matches played, as number one player Corey Schafer '13 took four games to win her matchup. Helena Darling '15, Katherine Nimmo '14 and Sarah Caughey '15 all had dominant wins, conceding a total of nine points on their way to straight-set victories.
Like the men's team, the women's team hosts Harvard on Nov. 30 in a match that will likely go a long way toward deciding the national rankings at the end of the season.