The Penn football team was not the only group of Quakers facing off against Cornell on Saturday. Penn men's squash opened its Ivy season at home against Cornell, but unlike its gridiron counterparts, the team was unable to put together a victory. Cornell beat the Quakers, 8-1. After finishing 5-10 last season -- which included an opening 6-3 loss to the Big Red -- the Red and Blue were looking to get things on track early. But like last season, they will have to wait until their second match for a chance at victory. Still, both teams came out of the first match with an optimistic outlook. Cornell coach Scott Stoneburgh and his players had nothing but positive comments about Penn and Cornell's chances this season. "Both teams are getting there in the Ivies." Stoneburgh said. "I think that [Penn coach Craig Thorpe-Clark] is doing a great job. Penn needs a dedicated guy like him to establish a strong program." Stoneburgh has high standards for his team this season. "Our goal is to break into the top eight in the country, and to establish ourselves in the A division," Stoneburgh said. "We have big expectations this year, even though we're a young team," said Rajat Khanna, the only senior in Cornell's lineup. Penn also enters the season with a young, slightly inexperienced roster. Its lineup on Saturday featured only one senior, with three freshmen in the top nine. The Quakers have been forced to jumble their order because of class conflicts, players abroad and the absence of senior co-captain and regular No. 3 player Will Ruthrauff due to injury. "I'll definitely be back for the next match," said Ruthrauff, who helped out by filming the matches. Ruthrauff's importance to the squad was expressed by several Penn players. "We're really hurting losing Will," co-captain Peter Withstandley said. "It always hurts to lose a player near the top." Withstandley mustered Penn's only win when Cornell's top player, Tim Nagel, went down with a leg injury. Withstandley had taken the first game 17-14 before Nagel ceded the match. "I started out behind, but then I really started running well and got him moving around," Withstandley said. The rest of the Penn lineup had trouble getting started against their opponents. Sophomore Sam Miller, who went 7-8 last year, lost to Cornell's Neal Soo in five games. He dropped the first two games before coming back to tie it up at two apiece. But the deciding game was taken by Soo, 15-11. "I normally play at No. 5, and being able to move up to No. 3 and keep it close for five games is a good sign that the team is moving in the right direction," Miller said. In the second slot, Penn junior John Griffin lost in three games to Khanna. The match was heated and included several contested shots. "Patience was a key in our match. I waited and seemed to find where I had the competitive advantage," Khanna said. In a promising first effort, Penn freshman Dan Rottenberg played Cornell sophomore Tripper Heckscher to a five-game loss by coming back from a two game-to-none start. Freshmen Jason Lam and Matt Vergare also made their first appearances for the Red and Blue. "The play up front has been a problem for some of the guys today," Griffin said. "It's the freshmen's first official match, and it's hard for them to get up to speed. It's a good experience for them, though." Thorpe-Clark saw plenty of positive signs from his team during the match. "Today was really competitive," Thorpe-Clark said. "What's important is our team chemistry, and we're making strides in coming together. That will help us a great deal in the long run." Penn seemed far from discouraged after the match, and the team is now looking forward to visiting Yale and Brown on December 2 and 3, respectively. "[We] should be challenged. Yale's gunning for the Ivy championship," junior Matt Juraska said. "We'll definitely use the next two weeks to get into match shape."Comments powered by Disqus
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