Squash teams finish in top ten, men qualify for the Potter Cup

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

Over Winter Carnival weekend, the then No. 5 men’s squash team fell 8-1 to then No. 4, now No. 2 Yale University in Hanover, followed by a 7-2 victory over No. 16 Brown University in Providence. The team finished the regular season 9-4 and ultimately ranked seventh in the country.

The women’s team rose in the rankings, beginning the weekend at No. 11 and rising to No. 9 after falling 9-0 to No. 5 Yale University and securing a 6-3 victory over then No. 9, now No. 11 Brown University. The team finished the regular season 5-9.

Placing top eight in the country has always been one of the dreams of the men’s squash team. Because the Big Green was ranked seventh at the end of the regular season, the team is eligible to compete in the Potter Cup, which only the best eight teams in the country can compete in.

“To see the final ranks today and to see we are in the top eight is a great feeling,” Brian Giegerich ’18 said. “To know that all your hard work paid off and that you have the chance to compete for the national championship is a feeling like no other.”

However, the journey to the Potter Cup all depended on last week’s games against Yale and Brown.

Yale’s team is currently ranked second in the country. A bulk of the team consists of strong international players from India to Israel. As opposed to other teams that have one or two strong players at the top of the lineup but a few weaker players at the bottom, Yale’s entire lineup is very strong.

“They have really strong players and their team is really deep,” Matthew Giegerich ’19 said. “Players one to nine are really strong. They had a really great year and they’re at a really good position to potentially win the national title.”

After defeating the Big Green last Friday, Yale moved on to beat Harvard University and become the Ivy League Champions. However, the Big Green’s dreams of placing in the top eight were mostly unaffected because Yale already ranked higher than Dartmouth. In addition, the Big Green’s lineup was significantly impacted by the absence of two of their top six players due to injury: Kyle Martino ’16 and Samuel Epley ’19.

“Yale is a very strong team,” Matthew Giegerich said. “We weren’t expected to win, so it didn’t discourage us too much. We knew that maybe if we had Sam and Kyle in the lineup, we may have fared a little bit better.”

Although the men’s squash team suffered a decisive loss against Yale, they were determined to win against Brown later that weekend, which was a must win for the Big Green to place in the top eight.

“We knew coming in that they were a solid team, but that if we played the way we were capable of, we had a good chance to win,” Matthew Giegerich said.

While the team was confident, the start of the match-up did not exactly play out as planned. Because Brown has a five-court system, the first round had four games while the second round had five matches. The first round ended 2-2, leaving the Big Green and the Brown Bears at a tie. However, the team was determined to not let the opportunity to play in the Potter Cup slip away.

“We were a little nervous, but we knew that we could get the job done if we stuck to our game plan,” Giegerich ’19 said. “So we won the last five matches and won 7-2.”

Although Martino and Epley were not able to compete in the past two games, they are expected to recover in time for the national tournament.

“I’m really excited,” Epley said. “I thought I was definitely out for the season, so it really worked out well.”

The women ended the regular season with a strong 6-3 victory against Brown after losing to Yale 9-0, finishing the season 5-9. The team will move on to play in the Hoehn Cup, played between the teams ranked 9 through 16.

During Friday’s game against Yale, Yale’s strong women’s squash team shut down the Big Green. Even Janel Gaube ’18, who had a six-match winning streak, was defeated 3-0 in games that ended in extra points.

However, the women’s squash team saw an opportunity to redeem themselves against Brown on Sunday. Dartmouth jumped out ahead early when Lydie McKenzie ’16 and Tori Dewey ’16 both secured 3-1 victories. A huge comeback was staged by Carly Rizzuto ’19, down by two after the first two games, who ended up taking opponent Purvi Goel in the final three games. After Gaube fell to conclude the first round, Dartmouth was up 3-1, still ahead but not safe from the threat of a Brown comeback.

In the second round of squash, Zainab Molani ’18 and Rebecca Brownell ’18 secured 3-0 victories to steal the match victory for Dartmouth. Madeline Fraser ’17 won her match in five games while both Emma Roberts ’19 and Jacqueline Barnes ’17 both lost their games in the second round.

The men and women’s squash teams are set to compete in the CSA Team Championships Feb. 26 to 28 at Yale.