Penn men’s squash has one goal this week: go into winter break with a winning record.
Currently at 1-1, the team will have to win both of its matches this week to reach its aim. On Wednesday, the Quakers will travel to Annapolis to face Navy before returning home to host Williams on Saturday.
Their first bout promises to be compelling, as both the No. 9 Quakers (1-1, 0-1 Ivy) and the No. 15 Midshipmen (12-3) are national powers.
Both teams are also looking to bounce back from recent losses.
Over the weekend, No. 4 Princeton emphatically beat Penn, 9-0. But Navy has dropped its last three, including two narrow 5-4 losses to No. 10 Williams and No 14 Middlebury in a doubleheader on Saturday.
Wednesday’s match has extra significance for the Red and the Blue’s number two player, senior Trevor McGuinness, as his freshman brother, Andrew plays for the Naval Academy.
“We want to beat them that much more,” the elder McGuinness said.
Unfortunately for those who like drama, the brothers will not directly face each other — Andrew plays number one for Navy, and will therefore play senior captain Thomas Mattsson.
But alongside the fierce competition, there will be a playful sibling rivalry on Wednesday.
“I’ve been telling my brother all the wrong things,” Trevor said.
Joking aside, the Quakers have to focus as they move ahead.
Against Princeton on Saturday, Penn dropped a pair of close matches: the Quakers’ number three and eight players both lost in the decisive fifth game. Going forward, it will be essential for Penn to pull out those tight contests if the team is going to be successful.
“We need to improve our mental toughness,” junior Dan Greenberg said.
Penn’s number three, Greenberg lost one of the tense five-game matches to the Tigers.
In addition to mental toughness, a point emphasized by several players, “part of [pulling out close matches] is experience,” coach Jack Wyant said.
“We have a pretty young team. We have [just] three upperclassmen.”
Aside from those factors, both of which come over time, there are some concrete improvements Wyant wants to see — specifically, the basics.
“There were a few things Princeton did a little bit better than us technically that we’ve been working on,” he said.
Although the Quakers have areas that need improvement, the overall sentiment in Penn’s camp is a positive one.
“If we’re focused and we work hard, we’re going to reverse those five-game matches,” Wyant noted, also adding that this team has excellent chemistry.
And if experience helps, the young Quakers will naturally improve as the season continues.
In the short run, though, they’ll have to bear down in Annapolis.
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