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Men’s College Squash: Yale and Rochester Battle

On Sunday, Yale visited Rochester.  Bulldog player Sharyar Aziz, Jr. reports on his team’s match with the Yellowjackets.

Rochester, NY — The #2-ranked Rochester Yellowjackets faced off against #4-ranked Yale this past Sunday. With Rochester’s impressive 5-4 win over Princeton in December, they moved into the #2 spot in the nation for the first time in their program’s history. The game promised to be exciting from the start as my team, the Yale Bulldogs, drove up to Rochester with the intention of avenging a heartbreaking loss to the Yellowjackets in the first round of Nationals last year.

The Peter Lyman Squash Center was packed during introductions, with both the University of Rochester president and athletic director coming out to support the Yellowjackets. The euphoria from the previous night’s tribute to squash-great Peter Lyman had clearly carried through to match day. The atmosphere was electric.

Yale sophomore Robby Berner, who faced off against Rochester’s Joe Chapman at #9, set the tone of the match early on. He took the first game in a commanding fashion by the score of 11-5. The second game was similar to the first, with Berner winning 11-6. Chapman appeared to have found a second wind in the third game, winning in a tie-break. Berner’s mental and physical toughness prevailed as he won the fourth game, giving Yale its first win.

Two courts down, Yale’s freshman Richard Dodd had rebounded from a first game loss to Rochester’s Will Newnham. With Newnham starting to tire, Dodd continued to press his opponent, finally taking the match 3-1. Rochester was able to escape the first round matches with one win, though. While Yale’s Aaron Fuchs pushed Rochester’s Hameed Ahmed to a fifth game, Ahmed proved to be too strong for Fuchs, taking the fifth game 11-3.

With Yale leading 2-1 after the first round, the match seemed to still be up for grabs. Yale’s John Roberts made quick work of Rochester’s Matt Domenick at the number five position. While Domenick was able to retrieve many of Roberts’s shots, he simply could not hang with him. And with Yale’s Naishadh Lalwani in control at #8, the Yellowjackets saw their chances of a comeback dwindling. Lalwani went on to defeat his opponent in four games.

At the number 2 position, Yale captain Todd Ruth pushed Rochester’s Jim Bristow. Bristow and Ruth battled for the first two games but ultimately Bristow prevailed. “I thought I played well today. Just not well enough. But at the end of the day, the team won and that’s what matters most,” said Ruth.

Yale’s freshman Hywel Robinson fell behind in his first game against Rochester’s Andres Duany. But Robinson soon settled in and climbed his way back into the match, and Duany simply could not keep up. The points were competitive and Duany even took the second game, but Robinson’s retrieving ultimately made the difference in the match. With an 11-5 win in the fourth game, Yale had toppled Rochester, but there . Rochester’s #1 Benjamin Fischer easily defeated Yale’s Kenneth Chan in three games. Ryan Dowd went on to win an impressive match in five games against Rochester’s Juan Pablo Gaviria to give Yale a hard fought 6-3 victory.
While this match does not have Ivy League implications for Yale, it is now clear that we are going to be a tough team for anyone to beat. Meanwhile, Rochester will still face Trinity and will likely have the chance to redeem itself in CSA Nationals in February.

Our coach David Talbott saw the win as a step in the right direction. “I am extremely proud of these guys. We’ve still got our work cut out for us if we’re going to achieve all the things we’ve set out to. But today was a great win. That Rochester team is strong.”

Next up for the Rochester Yellowjackets will be the Trinity Bantams on January 22. The Yale Bulldogs are back in action this weekend as they host the Cornell Big Red.

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