Men’s squash beats Harvard for first time in 73 years

by Matt Yuen | 1/4/16 6:46pm

The men’s squash team stormed into the new season with a strong 4-1 start, highlighted by a historic win over Harvard University on Dec. 1. The 5-4 win was the Big Green’s first against the Crimson in 73 years. In addition to playing Harvard over interim, the team also faced Franklin & Marshall College, the United States Naval Academy, George Washington University and Trinity College, winning in every matchup except the last.

The new squash season is highlighted by the addition of three heavily talented freshmen players— Carson Spahr ’19, Matthew Giegerich ’19 and Samuel Epley ’19. Although all three players are new to collegiate squash, they are already among the top players of Dartmouth’s squash team.

“[They are] definitely the most impactful freshman class ever in my four years,” squash captain James Fisch ’16 said. “They’re all heavily talented, interact with the team well and are so enthusiastic about the game. They have a fresh liveliness that brings everyone up around us, especially the upperclassmen who’ve been around for a while.”

Not only do the new players contribute to the team’s talent pool, they also bring fresh faces to the scene.

“When you have new freshmen coming into the game and already top of the line, it motivates everyone to work even harder,” Brian Giegerich ’18 added. “At least for me personally, it made me work that much harder to catch up to them and perform to the best of my abilities.”

With the addition of three strong players and a stronger sense of motivation surging throughout the team, it is no surprise the Big Green started off its season with an unprecedented victory against Harvard’s then-No.2 squash team.

“We beat Harvard, which is probably the biggest upset I’m going to have in my collegiate squash career as my first game as a freshman,” Spahr said.

Harvard’s squash team has always been one of the best teams in the collegiate circuit, making the Big Green’s recent victory that much more notable.

“There isn’t a lot a lot of pressure on us,” Glen Brickman ’17 added. “When we play, we have nothing to lose. They have everything to lose, and we have everything to gain.”

Injuries also gave an edge to Dartmouth’s squash team. Harvard’s lineup was missing two of its star players, while Dartmouth’s was only missing one key player, Alexander Greer ’16 who was out due to surgery.

“Our victory over Harvard let the college squash world know that we are a strong squash team,” Giegerich added.

The victory over Harvard has had a huge impact on the squash team and the program overall. Last season, the Big Green finished the year ranked No. 11, while Harvard finished ranked No. 2. A squad qualifies for the National Team Championship Potter Cup tournament by placing in the top eight of the Division 1 squash bracket at season’s end. Dartmouth was ranked No. 4 in the most recent rankings on Dec. 30.

“Before the start of the season, there was a Google Docs document where everyone wrote down some goals they had for themselves and for the team,” Spahr said. “And almost everyone had the same goal — to be in the top eight ranks by the end of the season.”

With spirit at an all time high, the men’s squash team continued to secure wins over the next three matches. Unfortunately, the Big Green’s streak came to a halt when it lost 9-0 to Trinity, who is consistently ranked No. 1 in the country.

“Their talent runs through all the ladders,” Giegerich said. “Even their number nine player is very strong.”

Furthermore, Spahr added that the loss to Trinity did not accurately reflect how close the individual matches between the players were.

“It was a bit discouraging heading out there, not grabbing a single win and losing 9-0,” he said. “But at the same time, we were competitive with most of our matches. We were really right in there with them. The 9-0 doesn’t reflect the true effort we put in.”

Trinity has reached the Potter Cup final for 19 consecutive years.The Bantams are undefeated this year and only lost one game all of last season, finishing 19-1.

“I think there were a lot of positives to take away from the match,” Brickman said. “We didn’t really beat ourselves over that loss. If you were at the match and you were watching, it was a big improvement from last year.”

This coming weekend, the Big Green is scheduled to play two home games against the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University.

“I want to encourage a lot of people to come out to the matches just to see one,” Spahr said. “I think the sport of squash itself — it’s the fastest-growing sport in the world, but a lot of people don’t really know much about it. Once people were to come out and watch the game, I think they would see that it’s a really entertaining sport.”