So close but yet so far for Penn men’s squash.
This weekend, Penn men’s and women’s squash continued their Ivy League season with home matches against Dartmouth and Harvard. Both teams found success against the Big Green, claiming 6-3 victories, while Harvard proved to be a greater challenge, dispatching the women, 9-0, and the men, 6-3.
The weekend slate began Saturday against Dartmouth (4-5, 1-3 Ivy), with the women taking the court first. The Quakers (8-4, 2-3) started strong with a dominant victory from senior Reeham Sedky, who took her match in consecutive games, dropping just five points. The Quakers would go on to receive wins from each member of their top five, including an impressive three-game victory from sophomore Julia Buchholz, which helped seal the victory.
“We were excited about the opportunity this match presented us. It didn’t help us [against Harvard], but it should help us in some tight matches coming up,” coach Jack Wyant said.
On the men’s side, Dartmouth (7-5, 2-3) proved to be no match, as the first shift saw the Quakers (11-2, 4-1) claim three 3-0 victories. The Red and Blue would not look back after this hot start, as freshman sensation Aly Abou Eleinen continued his undefeated season with another sweep for the Quakers at the No. 2 spot. The match’s clinching victory would come from another freshman, James Flynn, who finished off the Quakers' fifth sweep of the day.
Fresh off two victories, Penn hoped to continue the momentum into its matches against Harvard on Sunday. Unfortunately for the women, this would not be the case as the Crimson (7-0, 3-0) took care of business in resounding fashion with a 9-0 victory.
The story of the afternoon was Sedky, who lost her first match of the season, 3-1. After claiming the first game, Sedky looked poised to continue her dominant play, but after difficulties with the referee and the finesse shots of senior Sabrina Sobhy, she would go on to lose the next three games.
“Given that Reeham loses so infrequently, this gives her an opportunity to do some self study and figure out how to be better," Wyant said. "I know she is going to rebound from this.”
The women’s loss set the stage for the weekend’s marquee matchup, as the men looked to continue their superb season against the No. 1 Crimson (10-0, 5-0), a team the Quakers have beaten just three times in program history.
Harvard would jump out to an early lead, grabbing two quick victories, and with sophomore Andrew Douglas trailing 2-0 in his own match, it seemed like the Quakers may go away quietly.
However, after dropping his first game, junior David Yacobucci rallied by winning the next two games, getting the Penn crowd back into the match. Riding the energy of the fans, Yacobucci would finish his victory in an epic five-game match.
While Yacobucci celebrated, the energy began to shift, and in the shadow of his teammate's victory, Douglas had climbed out of his 2-0 hole and evened the match. With all eyes on Center Court, the two Nos. 1 would trade points until the score was 8-8, when Douglas took control and pulled away to an 11-8 win.
“We wanted to show who we were," coach Gilly Lane said. "They have a lot of talent and so do we. I thought the boys showed a lot of heart.”
It seemed as if Penn was poised to pull off the upset, as the Quakers led by a score of 3-2 after another win. At the same time, the Red and Blue also held 2-0 leads on two different courts. However, the Crimson pushed both matches to pivotal game fives, when Harvard's Julien Gosset emerged victorious, 10-6, and Penn freshman Michael Mehl fell, 13-11. This turned the momentum back to the Crimson and all but ended Penn’s upset bid.
“This is a tough one to swallow,” Lane said. “The result isn’t what we wanted, but it also isn’t what we have been thinking about all year. We are building towards something big, we have a young team, and they can learn from losses like this.”
After an up and down two days, the Quakers will look to get back on track against Cornell and Columbia in the final weekend of Ivy play.
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