If the first full weekend of college squash matches in 2020 is any indication, the road to the national collegiate championships is going to be a wild ride.
There is no better example of that than the titanic battle that took place between the five-time defending champion No. 1 Harvard women and No. 3 Princeton. On their home courts, aiming to match the 70-match win streak of their Harvard predecessors from the 1990s, the Crimson faced a motivated and deep Tiger squad.
The back-and-forth affair was close the entire afternoon, including the match score being tied 3-3 with the final wave of matches to go. Harvard stepped one point closer to victory, but true to form, Princeton hit back, knotting the score at 4-4 with the No. 4 players on court. The riveting match went five games with Harvard’s Eleonore Evans twice coming back from a game down to tie the match. With the match and the streak on the line, it was Evans who prevailed over Princeton’s Emme Leonard in the fifth game to clinch the victory.
Meantime, Harvard’s top-ranked men faced a challenging weekend of their own, with No. 3 Penn and No. 4 Princeton visiting on back-to-back days. The Crimson men, however, responded with a dominant performance, only dropping one individual match over the two days.
Sunday featured several other intriguing match-ups with results that will have lasting impacts at the end of the season. One of the biggest upsets of the weekend was the No. 8 Columbia women traveling to New Haven to take on No. 4 Yale and prevailing 5-4. The victory was the first ever for Columbia’s women’s program over their Ivy League foes.
No. 13 Western Ontario, who had already upset No. 12 Franklin & Marshall earlier in the weekend, were looking to make a claim on a Top-8 spot against No. 8 Virginia. The Cavaliers were too tough and too deep at home, ultimately capturing the 5-4 victory. Meeting at a neutral site, the number No. 29 Hamilton men clashed with the hottest team from the first semester, No. 31 Chatham. Hamilton withstood Chatham’s signature strength at the top of the ladder, clinching the win thanks, in part, to Hamilton’s first-year, Tate Suratt, winning in five games in the number 2 slot.
Just like its finish, the weekend started off with a bang thanks to several upset results. The Dickinson men, ranked 26th is the most recent poll, shocked No. 15 St. Lawrence, grabbing a 5-4 victory with wins in the lower five positions in the ladder. The No. 27 Bowdoin women exhibited their resurgence this season with a convincing 7-2 win over No. 22 Mount Holyoke. In matches between closely ranked competitors, both the Navy men and the Conn College women confirmed their placement with wins over Middlebury and Colby, respectively.
Results on Saturday for the men held true to the previous rankings, but for the women, George Washington and Colby staked claims to consideration for higher spots with wins over Middlebury and Mount Holyoke, respectively.
With many teams still on winter break, the midweek schedule remains robust throughout the rest of this week. Headlining matches include the hotly contested Rochester-Trinity rivalry today, Brown taking a trip south to play Navy, George Washington, and Virginia, as well as Trinity visiting Columbia and Amherst visiting Middlebury on Thursday.