Despite a No. 9 national ranking, the Penn men’s squash team still ranks sixth in its own conference.
No. 4 Princeton bluntly reminded the Quakers of that fact on Saturday afternoon.
In the Ivy League opener for both teams, the Tigers defeated Penn at Ringe Squash Courts, 9-0. But the match was closer than the lopsided scorecard implied.
Senior Thomas Mattson, the top ranked player for Penn (1-1, 0-1 Ivy), managed to take the second game from Todd Harrity, Princeton’s junior star, before ultimately dropping the match in four games.
Going into Saturday, Harrity had lost only one of his past 64 games. He also won the individual men’s championship for the Tigers (3-0, 1-0) last season.
The match had extra significance as both Mattson and Harrity are from the Philadelphia area, and had competed long before beginning their respective college careers. As such, they’ve developed quite a rivalry.
“I kind of measure myself against him,” Mattson said of Harrity.
“I’ve probably lost 10 or 15 times in a row without getting a game, so when I practice, [it’s] to catch up with him.”
It wasn’t just Mattson who had a close match. Penn’s No. 3 and No. 8 players, junior Dan Greenberg and sophomore Justin Ang, each took their opponent to a decisive fifth game, but both fell just short in the end.
Mattson noted that the Red and Blue need to “play the big points a little better,” in order to change their luck in those tense five-game matches. He admitted it was “more of a mental thing,” than something that practice could easily improve.
For Princeton, Saturday’s match was a validation of its No. 3 ranking and a reminder that it will be legitimate contenders in the hunt for the national championship. Considering their rival’s success, the Quakers don’t have any doubts about how successful they can be this year.
“I thought everybody played great today,” Mattson noted. “And though the score doesn’t really reflect well, the matchups were extremely [close].”
Penn can take solace in the fact that the Tigers are one of the toughest opponents it will face all year. And as a young team, the Quakers still have room to grow. Outside of their top three players, every other player in the top nine is either a freshman or sophomore.
The Quakers will have time to recover and regroup from this match before their next Ivy contest, which doesn’t occur until after winter break.