This weekend, Penn men's and women's squash were in action again against talented Ivy League competition.
The No. 3 men's team continued its home stretch this weekend that began against No. 4 Princeton this past Wednesday and will conclude against Columbia next Friday. This Saturday and Sunday, the Red and Blue competed against No. 15 Brown and No. 8 Yale. The Quakers routed both teams by a score of 9-0.
On the women's side, the Quakers were also at home, taking on No. 13 Brown and No. 4 Yale on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The No. 5 Quakers dominated the Bears, 9-0. However, the Red and Blue lost by a narrow 5-4 margin against the Bulldogs.
For the men (10-2, 4-1 Ivy), the domination of top teams continued, scoring the Quakers their seventh 9-0 shutout of the season and their eighth win against a top 25 opponent.
Against Brown, only one match out of the nine played went to more than three games, making every other win against the Bears a 3-0 victory for the Quakers.
After junior captain Andrew Douglas won his match against the Bears to put the team up 1-0, everyone else followed suit, raking in dominant performance after dominant performance against Brown.
The Red and Blue followed up their blowout with another strong 9-0 showing against the Bulldogs. Freshman Saksham Choudary, who has played the No. 4, 6, and 7 position for the Quakers, got in on the action, extending his match record to 12-0 overall after this weekend.
However, coach Gilly Lane was quick to point out that even though these are large-margin wins on paper, the contests are much closer when one dives deep into the statistics.
“The scoreline says 9-0, but it’s a lot harder than 9-0. Brown and Yale are both good teams, and I think we got lucky this week in a couple of matches and a couple of points went our way, and I’m happy we were able to get two big League wins with some momentum going into next weekend,” Lane said.
“We still need to get better at the little things,” he continues. “Making decisions under pressure is what this sport is all about, and we’ve got to continue to make the right choices in the right situations."
On the women's side, Penn (6-5, 2-3 Ivy) came away with a 1-1 split against some of the Ivy League’s best competition.
The 9-0 win against the Bears was a tough contest, with three of the matches needing more than three games to decide a winner. In addition, the young talent for the Quakers shined, as all four freshmen in the starting lineup won their respective matches.
Penn followed this win with a heartbreaking defeat against Yale. To start, freshman Ashley Manning dominated her match with a 3-0 victory. However, two quick wins by Yale gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead. Junior Haley Scott showed out, winning in five games to even the match at 3-3. Yale fought back again to regain the lead, 4-3, and sophomore Jamila Abou El Enin followed through with a win in her match, tying the competition. Unfortunately, a heartbreaking five-game match had Yale freshman Gigi Yeung just edge out freshman Navmi Sharma for the victory.
For coach Jack Wyant, the formula moving forward from this tough loss was clear.
“Squash is about patterns. Some patterns are successful, some patterns are not, and those that identify their positive patterns and those [patterns] that get them into trouble … they’re the ones having success,” Wyant said.
The commitment to getting better and the pride of being one of the top teams in the country as the season winds down is also fully recognized by the Quaker players.
“I love the girls on this team, and every time I step on the court I’m fighting for them, fighting for Jack and Gilly, and feel like this is an incredible opportunity for this team,” junior captain Julia Buchholz said.
Both the men and women will celebrate Senior Day against Columbia next Friday. The men have not defeated Columbia since the 2013-14 season, and a win against the Lions would make Harvard the only Ivy League team that the Quakers haven’t defeated under Lane. In addition, the Columbia women have shown that they are a tough team to beat as well, as they split their two matchups with the Red and Blue last season.
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