Men's squash downs No. 9 Drexel, improves to 6-2
At the last home game of the season, No. 5 Dartmouth sealed the victory against No. 9 Drexel University 6-3, raising the Big Green to 6-2 overall (2-1 Ivy) while dropping the Dragons to 7-4.
With the crucial win against Drexel, the Big Green successfully defended its top-8 rank and continued to pave its path to the National Team Championships and the Potter Cup.
“Our long-term goal was to get in the top eight, and if we lost it would have been a lot harder to do that,” Matt Giegerich ’19 said. “Now that we won, we’re in a very good position.”
3-0 victories by Dartmouth’s two seniors Kyle Martino ’16 and captain James Fisch ’16 kicked off the competition. The team clinched the overall victory after the Giegerich brothers, Brian Giegerich ’18 and Matt Giegerich, and Glen Brickman ’17 won their matches. However, the overall victory did not affect first seed Alvin Heumann ’18 from giving his all in his match.
“I think the highlight was watching Alvin pull out a win at number one,” Brickman said. “It was a really brutal five game match, and he was playing against a really tough opponent. We had already pulled out the team victory, but watching him push so hard was really fun to watch.”
This top of the ladder victory speaks volumes about the quality of the Dartmouth team, as Drexel has historically been known for a strong top lineup in comparison to the rest of its ladder.
Fisch said that Alvin has completed a difficult task in winning all three matches against Drexel, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University while ranked number one.
“The fact that we won some matches in the top three, middle three and bottom three is really just promising because it shows that we’re not only a pretty deep team, but we also have some talent at the top that can go the distance,” Fisch said.
Although the results ended up in Dartmouth’s favor, the team knew that that the victory would not come easily.
“We knew it was going to be a tough match especially because they have a very strong top of their line up,” Brian Giegerich said. “They’ve had a few injuries, but when we played them they were at full strength. Because I’m at the bottom of the order, I knew that I was going to have a bit easier of a match, and it was pretty crucial that I win my match.”
In addition, the quality of collegiate squash has been improving over the past years. Drexel just barely lost 5-4 to now No. 3 Penn this season, the same score in the Big Green’s loss to the Quakers, which serves as a testament to the Dragons’ skills.
“U.S. Squash, in general, has been getting better over the years,” Fisch said. “Each season, we don’t really know what each team will bring. They might have had a really good recruiting year, or have been training really hard, so Drexel was one of those teams that was threatening to break back into the top eight like us.”
Fisch said that the teams in the past used to be more stratified in terms of the quality. There used to be a significant gap between the top eight and the lower ranks. But with improvement in recruitment strategies, coaching techniques and overall popularity of the game, the teams have been moving closer and closer together.
Nevertheless, the historic 8-1 win over No.11 Princeton and the extremely close 5-4 loss against then No. 2 Penn had the team’s spirits high going into the match against Drexel.
“We had a lot of confidence going in,” Brickman said. “We knew that on paper we were the higher ranked team. So if we played the way we were capable of playing, the way we have been playing leading up to that match, we should have come out of it with a favorable result, and that ended up being the case.”
Although Dartmouth’s men’s squash team has undoubtedly had a successful season so far, things did not start off too strong for the Big Green during preseason.
“It’s funny because we started the season at Ivy scrimmages,” Brickman said. “We lost to Cornell and Yale pretty badly, and it was not the start we wanted for the season. That rough start kicked everyone into gear and made everyone realize we had a long way to go before we were where we wanted to be.”
But with well-deserved victories over teams inside and outside the top eight, there is no doubt the Big Green has made a statement as a team that can compete with any team in the country.
“We beat all the teams that weren’t in the top eight, so it shows that there really shouldn’t be any disputes that we deserve to be in the top eight,” Brian Giegerich said.
The Big Green take to the court again against Ivy competitor Cornell University in Ithaca on Feb. 6.