Ephs notch fourth at NESCACs

Tri-captain Varun Sharma ’16 went 2-1 in the tournament, defeating two NESCAC opponents. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.
Tri-captain Varun Sharma ’16 went 2-1 in the tournament, defeating two NESCAC opponents. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

Men’s squash (7-14, 6-4 in the NESCAC) traveled to Trinity for the annual NESCAC tournament – featuring contests against Middlebury, Colby and Trinity – on Sunday. The men entered the event as the No. 4 seed, the lowest rank they had ever secured in the history of the event and were hungry for a chance to play Bates or Middlebury again to improve their national ranking.

All matches were played in the five-court system, meaning evens played first followed by the odd-numbered players. In the first round of the tournament, the men played Colby for a spot in the semi-finals. The Ephs came out of the gates strongly and each player fought hard to secure a point for the team. In the first round of matches, Will Ruggiero ’19, David Pincus ’19, John Shuck ’17 and John Fitzgerald ’19 all secured points for the Ephs, putting the team up 4-0.

“The boys played exceptionally well against Colby in the quarterfinal and were so close to beating Middlebury on Sunday,” Head Coach Zafi Levy ’01 said. “We have improved our standards each week over the past five weeks of competition and I look forward to see the team continue to improve over the next two weeks before Nationals.”

In the second slate of matches, the men also beat out all of their opponents. Tri-captain Varun Sharma ’16, tri-captain Michael Petrick ’16 and Jamie Ruggiero ’17 all cruised to easy victories, putting the men up 7-0. Jamie Havran ’18 and tri-captian Galen Squiers ’16 each took five games to down their Colby opponents but ultimately secured the final two points for the team, giving the men the match with a final score of 9-0.

In the next round, the men lost 9-0 to Trinity, the No. 1 team in the country that has not lost a single match this season. With a slightly depleted lineup, the Ephs rested a few tired players. Sharma was the only Eph to capture a single game. Anand Butler ’19 beat his opponent 3-1 at No. 10, giving him his first varsity win but not contributing to the Ephs’ total score. The loss sent the men to the constellation match for the bronze medal where they were looking for a chance to avenge their tough early season loss to Middlebury.

In this battle on Sunday, the Ephs went down 2-0 early in their match against the Panthers as Ruggiero and David Pincus ’19 both lost 3-0 to skilled opponents. The Ephs then gained two needed points as Shuck and Sharma both won in four games, evening the match at 2-2. The men proceeded to gain another point as Petrick played veritable squash, downing his opponent in three easy games.

The Panthers responded ferociously, however, claiming the next two matches to bring the total score to 4-3 in their favor. With two players left to compete, the men put their hopes on the backs of Ruggiero and Squiers. Ruggiero stumbled at first at No. 1, going down 2-1, but won the final two games easily, securing the match 3-2 and evening the match score to four points a piece. The match came down to the No. 3 position. Regrettably, Squiers eventually lost to an extremely skilled opponent and gave the match to Middlebury 5-4. The result was a much closer one than when the two teams met a few weeks ago, when the men lost 7-2.

On Feb. 2, the men lost to Brown 7-2 and, on Jan. 31, the Ephs captured their 17th-consecutive Little Three title after defeating Amherst and Wesleyan, both matches ultimately ending 8-1.

Yesterday, Williams faced Dartmouth in its final home match of the season. Results came in too late to report. The men will compete in “C Division” Nationals beginning on Feb. 19.

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