Men’s squash garners 2nd at NESCAC finals

Men’s squash traveled to Hartford, Conn. for a full weekend of competition that included a second-place finish at the annual NESCAC tournament. The men handed Wesleyan its second 9-0 defeat in as many weeks before echoing its previous domination of Bates with a decisive 8-1 win on Saturday. They advanced to a familiar final matchup with Trinity’s perennial powerhouse, posting tough but brief resistance in a 9-0 loss to earn the NESCAC Runner-Up plaque. On Friday, the men opened their weekend with a face-off against Brown. A matchup that looked tight on paper became a landslide in favor of the Ephs as they charged to an 8-1 victory. Prior to the match against Brown, the men claimed the Little Three Championship over Amherst and Wesleyan on Jan. 29. The men also challenged Dartmouth on Jan. 22, but fell 7-2.

The men took care of business in their NESCAC quarterfinal match with Wesleyan. Only a single game was conceded as the men blazed past Wesleyan to a 9-0 victory, securing their place in a semifinal battle against Bates. The men were well acquainted with the Bates squad that they prepared to meet for the fifth time in fewer than two seasons.

The men approached the night match with confidence after their 9-0 sweep of Bates earlier in the season, but the Bobcats countered with a new lineup in challenging the men. The Ephs’ depth proved critical as the men defeated the Bobcats’ shuffled lineup. Jack Ervasti ’13 raced to deliver the opening point for the Ephs, and Ryan Eagan ’13 followed in style after dropping a game. Taylor Foehl ’14, Alec Greaves-Tunnell ’13 and Will Morris ’12 closed the door in straight games, while their remaining teammates fought to increase the Ephs’ lead. Co-captains Will Gruner ’11 and Jeremy Herrmann ’11 delivered tough performances to seal victories in the fifth game, while Nick Marks ’13 claimed victory after his opponent was forced to forfeit due to illness during the match.

“I thought the team handled the pressure of four hard matches in one weekend very well,” Herrmann said. “Everyone in the lineup played great squash despite a physically exhausting schedule.”

Following their success against Bates, the men looked to Sunday for a high-quality finish against reigning national champion Trinity. The Bantams posted a revised senior lineup seeking to gain an edge over the Ephs. While Ervasti claimed an impressive game and Greaves-Tunnell forced his opponent to the fifth, the men succumbed to the national champions 9-0.

Friday’s dual meet against Brown promised to be a rigorous test of the men’s resolve ahead of the NESCAC tournament, with the Bears having posted a string of impressive results en route to the clash. Spurred on by the full house and by their own ambitions for the weekend, however, the Ephs were quick to establish their dominance. Jared Zuckerman ’12, Ervasti and Herrmann led the charge in the first round with quick three-game sweeps. Though the match got tighter in the second round as the Bears clawed their way in, gritty five-game wins by Foehl and Gruner sealed victory for the Ephs, while Morris, Marks and Greaves-Tunnell finished the rout by taking their matches in three games each.

“I was so proud of the way our team played this weekend,” Head Coach Zafi Levy said.“The boys played some of their best squash against Brown and Bates. Our showing at the final against the 12-time national champion [Trinity] was inspiring … We’re looking forward to one last weekend of squash before Nationals.”

Prior to their weekend in Hartford, the men traveled to a Little Three competition with Wesleyan and Amherst at Amherst’s home courts. The Ephs punched through the Cardinals’ lineup 9-0 before dominating the Jeffs 7-2, laying easy claim to their 11th straight Little Three Championship. They finished off their weekend in New York, losing a hard-fought match to Cornell 9-0 before rebounding with a clean 9-0 win at Hamilton’s home facility.

The victories at Amherst and Hamilton followed a 7-2 loss to Dartmouth, where Marks and Ervasti’s strong solo efforts were not enough to earn a victory.

Men’s squash will host St. Lawrence on Saturday before traveling to Vermont to play the Middlebury squad on Sunday.

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