Penn men’s squash was pitted against two of the nation’s premier teams this weekend, suffering a 7-2 loss to No. 3 Rochester on Saturday, while earning a 5-4 win against No. 4 St. Lawrence on Sunday.
The Quakers (3-2) were coming off of a tough 5-4 loss earlier in the week to Drexel going into these matches, but the defeat helped the team prepare mentally for the weekend’s opponents.
“While it was a tough loss on Wednesday, we used it to push forward this weekend,” Penn coach Gilly Lane said. “The team realized that they need to regain focus and get back to playing Penn squash, which is a tough-minded game.”
The 7-2 score line for the match Saturday against Rochester (3-0) is a misleading one, as Red and Blue put on a solid performance, but had trouble closing. Juniors Marwan Mahmoud and Hayes Murphy were the winners for Penn at No. 1 and No. 5, respectively. The Nos. 2, 6 and 8 matches all went to five games, and in each of those matches, the Rochester player narrowly came out on top.
“Yesterday honestly wasn’t our best performance against Rochester,” senior captain BG Lemmon said. “We were still playing a little scared ... so the theme today was that we’re going to be aggressive. We said to each other, win or lose, we are going to dictate how this match is going to go.”
St. Lawrence (2-1) proved to be a difficult opponent, as the score was tied 4-4 going into the final, No. 1 match. In dramatic fashion, Mahmoud was able to recover from a 2-1 deficit and secure the victory for the Quakers with a gritty, five-game victory over St. Lawrence’s Ahmed Bayoumy. Other victories came from Murphy (3-0), junior Anders Larson (3-0), BG Lemmon (3-2) and sophomore Jonathan Zeitels (3-2).
The shift in mentality was the key for the Quakers on Sunday.
“We were playing to win today, rather than playing to not lose,” Lemmon said.
The Quakers won’t have any more matches until Jan. 8, when they take on Trinity. The team may have had their confidence shaken by the two consecutive losses they suffered this week, but the victory on Sunday against the Saints will help make great strides for the mentality going forward.
“A win against a program like St. Lawrence speaks volumes to the will and the desire of the players to be successful,” Lane said.
However, Lemmon recognizes the fact that the team needs to prepare and train even harder in response to the two defeats.
“We’re going to enjoy this one for now, but we still have a lot of work to do.”