Men’s squash finishes 7th at Potter Cup, women take Kurtz

by Matt Yuen | 2/29/16 6:30pm

Men’s squash finished its historic season, ranked seventh in the country, while the No. 9 women’s squash took home the Kurtz Cup for first time in four years.

At the final squash tournament of the season, the men’s team lost 8-1 to Yale University, the newly established national champion, 6-3 to Harvard University but topped Columbia University 6-3 to close out the season 10-6. On the other hand, the women’s squash team remained undefeated throughout the weekend with a 9-0 victory over the University of Virginia, 7-2 over Williams College and a nail-biting 5-4 over Drexel University to finish off the season 8-9 with the Kurtz Cup.

This season has been one for the books for the Dartmouth men’s squash team. At the very start of the season, the Big Green secured a 5-4 victory over Harvard, who was ranked No. 2 at the time, for the first time in nearly 70 years. In the first match of 2016, the men’s squash team recorded a 8-1 victory over Princeton, beating the Tigers for the first time ever in Ivy League history.

“Squash is a sport that is predictable in that where you are ranked kind of predicts who you will win or lose to,” Alvin Heumann ’18 said. “[Last year] we really only completed people’s expectations of ourselves in that we beat the teams we were expected to win against, and lost to teams other teams expected us to lose to. Last season was kind of a predictable season, but this season, in the eyes of other team, was definitely unpredictable. I think that we have exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

Before the season even started, the squash team had one goal in mind — to be ranked top eight and subsequently qualify for the A-division to be eligible to compete in the Potter Cup. Dartmouth qualified this year for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

“While our goal at the beginning of the season was to be top eight, and we succeeded in reaching that goal, we weren’t totally satisfied,” Samuel Epley ’19 said. “Although we achieved our goal of finishing in the top eight, we were still very motivated going into the weekend. We knew that we could beat some of the top teams, so we put pressure on ourselves to beat some of the other teams [in the Potter Cup].”

In the first round of the Potter Cup, the Big Green took on Yale, resulting in a 8-1 loss. Yale swept nearly every match 3-0 victory for Yale with the exception of first seat Huemann, who was the only one to win his match, and ninth seat Brian Giegerich ’18, who lost 3-1.

In the second round of the tournament, the team played against Harvard. The Crimson, at full strength in the Potter Cup, avenged its loss earlier in the season when its team was missing two of their two players due to injury. Dartmouth started off the game with a substantial lead over Harvard before falling behind.

“We built a 3-1 lead in the overall match score and we had the opportunity to clinch the match, but some of the results didn’t go our way and that took the wind out of our sail so to speak,” Matt Giegerich ’19 said. “The last round [of matches] I think we struggled a bit. We couldn’t find our groove. It’s unfortunate that we lost to them, but they’re a good team.”

Finally, the Big Green was set up to play against Columbia on the last day of the tournament. Earlier in the season, the Big Green lost 5-4 to the Lions, but the Big Green flipped the script and ended up winning 6-3.

The Big Green’s seventh place finish this season showed the potential of men’s squash team. The team looks to improve in next year’s season and the rest of the years to come.

Heumann said the top four of the team’s lineup are all underclassmen — all freshman and one sophomore with a returning player in the fifth spot.

“I think it’s expected that all of our top five will get better in the next season,” Heumann said.

Heumann said that the team has three additional freshman players who are expected to play in the top nine next year and strengthen the team. Heumann added that he expects the team to continue to exceed expectations.

The women’s team started off the Kurtz Cup by crushing Virginia 9-0. The next day, the women’s squash team continued to play excellently and defeated Williams 7-2, putting them up against Drexel the next day to determine the winner of the tournament.

The match against Drexel came down to the wire. In the first round of the match, Madeline Fraser ’17, Janel Gaube ’18 and Rebecca Brownell ’18 acquired a solid 3-0 lead against Drexel. In the second round of the match, Carly Rizzuto ’19 was the only one to secure a victory, as Zainab Molani ’18 and Tori Dewey ’16 both fell against their opponents. As a result, the final round would decide the winner.

In the third round, Jacqueline Barnes ’17 and Lydie McKenzie ’16 both fell to their opponents, 3-0 and 3-2 respectively. Emma Roberts ’19, however, was able to win the deciding game in the match 3-0, allowing the women’s squash team to bring home the Kurtz Cup to its new home in Hanover.

Correction appended (March 3, 2016):

The original version of this article incorrectly referred to the women's squash team as ranked No. 11. In fact, the team went into last weekend's competition ranked No. 11, but is now ranked No. 9. This error has been corrected.