Saturday, February 23, 2013

Men's Semifinals

Harvard Outlasts Princeton 5-4 

What a day!  The men beat Princeton for the first time in several years.  It was an incredibly tight match full of unexpected twists.

At the 9 position, Alex Ma played a steady, smart match against Michael LeBlanc.  Michael turned the pace up in the second game but Alex was able to hold him off.  Alex won 11-7, 12-10, 11-5.

Princeton's Tyler Osborne, arguably the best no. 3 in the country, proved too much for Nigel Koh. Nigel lost 11-6, 11-1, 11-6

Tommy came out strong in the first but couldn't keep Taylor Tutrone on the ropes.  He lost  5-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8

Princeton was up 2-1.  

Brandon was determined to redeem himself after being handed a devastating 5 game loss by Princeton's Sam Kang during the regular season.  He wore down the speedy Singaporian with relentless volleying, winning 11-6, 16-14, 11-6.

It was a clash of styles between Tyler Olson and Stephen Harrington.  Tyler took the first game with nimble retrieving but Harrington took the second by hogging the T and hitting hard drives that kept Tyler scrambling.  In the third and fourth, Tyler was able to extend the rallies and exploit Harrington's size and movement.  It was one of Tyler's best wins of the season with scores of 12-10, 7-11, 11-8, 11-6.

Matt Roberts lost the first game to the rangy sophomore, David Hoffman.  As Princeton players gathered around the court, our lone freshman in the top nine would have to show his mettle. Matty came back to win 19-17 in the fourth!  10-12, 11-8, 11-4, 19-17

We were up 4-2 with Ali still to go.  Between the players and coaches, any one of us would have privately considered the number one match to be an automatic tally in our column. Apparently, Harrity didn't!

Ali came out strong and took the first game but Todd drew even with the second, then snatched the third.  Todd had sharpened his short game and was punishing any reckless shot by Ali with a perfect counter drop.  Ali had pulled back so many matches after sloppy starts that we always felt a deep assurance that he would come through.  That day we found that day that nothing is written in stone, as Ali lost 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9.  It was an incredible performance by Todd.

Zeke faced Vivek Dinodia, a freshman from India with remarkable touch and an incredibly tough opponent at 7. Dinodia was undefeated in Ivy League play and would go on to win the Malloy Division at National Individuals.   Zeke couldn't quite answer his shotmaking and lost 11-7, 11-9, 11-7.

It was 4-4.  The last match on court was nothing short of epic.  The crowd had grown so large that players were standing on chairs to see over several rows in the upper gallery.  Gary Power was down 0-2 to Dylan Ward and losing the third game as Zeke's match finished.  Dylan was a great competitor who had unexpectedly taken down Nigel during the regular season.  With the fate of the team on his back, Gary faced a massive uphill climb.  Dylan was taking the lion's share of volleys and drops.  Gary, on the other hand, is an all-out attritional player. He would have to claw his way back with long rallies, while doing most of the retrieving, just to have chance.  It was incredibly gutsy squash with long rallies that tested both player's will and concentration.  Two hours later, at 2-2 in games, Gary sustained a cramp in the fifth after tripping over Dylan.  He was somehow able to keep pushing to reach match ball at 10-7.  Dylan received a controversial let call.  Gary felt the match should have been his and struggled to keep his nerve.  Finally, after winning the following rally  Gary raised his arms over his head and slumped down on the court as the gallery roared.  After shaking Dylan's hand, he exited the door to join his of teammates, who were hopping up and down as if on pogo sticks in the cramped hallway and screaming at the top of their lungs.  
The scoreline was 6-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7

We never expected that we would need five wins with Ali losing at the top.  He has carried us so many times and he will again.  It was the other boys' turn to carry him that day.

Check out some awesome photos from the match and celebration afterwards at

Power's Surge Sends Men's Squash Into Potter Cup Finals, 5-4

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