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Freshman Hao Cui rallies against Haverford's Kai Schinaman during the team's match at the Penn Squash Center on Dec. 3. Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

It's not easy to follow up on an 18-1 season, Penn men's squash's first Ivy League title since 1969, and a trip to the Potter Cup. But this year, the Quakers are on pace to match last season's remarkable run. 

The team has begun the season with eight straight wins, combining to outscore opponents 70-2. The Quakers have boasted shutouts of four ranked teams so far, including No. 11 Rochester and No. 13 Chatham this past weekend. 

On Saturday, No. 2 Penn (figuratively) squashed both Haverford and Rochester with a pair of 9-0 wins. Even more impressively, against Haverford, each Penn player was able to dispatch his opponent in a three-game sweep. 

“It’s been a really great start,” coach Gilly Lane said. “This year is really different because we have a very young, inexperienced team compared to last year’s team, but the guys have really stepped up. The young guys that didn’t play last year have done an amazing job of coming into the starting lineup.”

Penn also defended its title in the Pennsylvania State Championship for the fifth consecutive year, with a 7-2 defeat of No. 7 Drexel on Nov. 13, a matchup that saw the only two Quaker losses of the season so far. 

Lane credits the team's success to the tenacity of its players as well as the “incredible culture” on the team. He noted that more experienced leaders have been guiding, helping, and driving the success of the team's younger players. 

“We have a lot of momentum,” he said. “Our goal and mindset is to take [it] one match at a time.”

Even though the team has seen great success so far, Lane hopes to see some players recover in order to bring the best lineup to matches throughout the rest of the season.

“We’ve been really unlucky so far with some of the injuries,” Lane said, “so we haven’t played our full lineup or played our best yet.”

Following this weekend's match, the team will be on a monthlong break for the winter holidays. When they return, the Quakers will begin Ivy League play with a Jan. 13 game at Cornell. 

Most notable on Penn's upcoming schedule, the team will face No. 1 Harvard on Jan. 22 in a matchup of what are currently the top two teams in the country. Last season, Penn fell in the Potter Cup to the Crimson, so next month's matchup will serve as a chance for the Quakers to exact revenge on the squad that denied them their title hopes.