Men’s squash drops match to Middlebury

January 27, 2016 by Andrew Litvin, Team Correspondent

Men’s squash (4-10, 3-2 in the NESCAC) lost 7-2 to a strong Middlebury squad Saturday afternoon in the Simon Squash Center. The loss to the Panthers was the fourth straight for the Ephs, who have suffered a recent string of tight defeats.

“Our men’s team played well against a very strong Midd team and came up short. We have a young team that needs some more experience in order to fulfill its potential,” said Head Coach Zafi Levy ’01.

The Ephs saw impressive wins from Jamie Ruggiero ’17 at the No. 1 slot in three games and co-captain Michael Petrick ’16 in four games at the No. 5 position. Andrew Litvin ’18 also won in four games in an exhibition match.

On Jan. 17, 10th ranked Franklin and Marshall travelled to Williams and defeated the men in a tight 6-3 tilt. The match was dramatically close from the beginning, but a few tight matches decided in favor of the Diplomats sealed the team’s narrow victory over the Ephs.

The Ephs saw a great performance from Ruggiero at No. 1, who won in four games over a top-40 player in college squash. In the No. 2 place, John Fitzgerald ’19 finished off the weekend with another great performance, fighting valiantly but ultimately falling in five well-contested games. The Ephs also received points courtesy of John Shuck ’17 at the No. 4 slot and David Pincus ’19 at No. 6, each finishing off their opponents in three games. In the exhibition match, Litvin also played good squash, controlling the match and winning 3-0.

Williams also dropped close contests to George Washington 6-3 on Jan. 16 and to Navy on Jan. 15, a thrilling 5-4 tilt which was decided by the final match. Against the George Washington Colonials, the Ephs got an early boost as Mason Elizondo ’18 at No.9 cruised to a 3-1 victory. On the middle and top courts, co-captain Galen Squiers ’16 at No. 3 and Pincus at No. 6 were in tight matches. Both Squiers and Pincus won their first games but then lost the next two. Each player showed amazing mental toughness and won their fourth games to even their matches. Pincus cruised to victory in the fifth to put Williams up 2-0. Squiers lost in the fifth game as the pinpoint accuracy of his opponent’s strokes proved too difficult to overcome. Will Ruggiero ’18 lost in three games at the No. 8 spot after playing a tough opponent, evening the match at 2-2. Petrick then trounced his opponent in three games, giving Williams a 3-2 lead.

Fitzgerald was in a battle with his opponent on the top courts, trading games with his opponent to get to two all. He played outstanding attacking squash but lost in the fifth game, tying the match at 3-3. George Washington took control of the match with three consecutive victories, ultimately downing Williams 6-3.

Against Navy, the men dropped a tight encounter 5-4 with the outcome of the match decided at the No. 1 position. With the match in favor of Navy 4-3, Shuck outlasted his opponent 3-1, evening the match at 4-4. The match came down to a battle between Ruggiero and Navy’s Jack Herold with the Navy player prevailing in a tight four games.

The team’s losses followed two important conference wins against Bowdoin, 8-1, and Colby, 7-2. However, these two victories were balanced by a tough defeat at the hands of league foe Bates, as Williams dropped the match 6-3. On Jan. 7, Williams battled to an 8-1 victory against Hamilton, a strong opening of their NESCAC slate.

Williams next faces Yale on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in New Haven, Conn., and then will compete in the annual Little Three Tournament against Amherst and Wesleyan at home on Sunday, beginning at 11 a.m. With Williams ranked No. 18 in the country and Wesleyan ranked No. 19, the tournament could prove the most exciting in recent Little Three history.

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