After the men and the women lost to both Princeton and Penn this weekend, the official squash season has now come to a close. The women ended with an overall record of 8-6 and the men with 6-10.
The matches against Princeton were the last official home games for the seniors — Kevin Flannery, Harry Freeman and Augie Jones for the men, and Rachel Scherman and Sydney Francis for the women — but the losses to the Tigers did not seem to act as a blow to the Red’s morale.
The men had especially close gameplay, as detailed by head coach David Palmer.
“We lost, 6-3, but there were three matches that ended up, 11-9, in the fifth game, so if we would’ve won those matches, we would’ve won, 6-3. So within a matter of two points per match there really was a telling factor.”
The three wins for the men came from sophomore Andy Muran at No. 2, sophomore Alex Jung at No. 6 and junior Seb Obieta-Chichizola at No. 7. Muran’s win added a happy twist to the defeat, as it was his fourth in the Ivy League conference and eighth for the season as a whole, both team-bests.
“It was emotional,” said senior and men’s captain Harry Freeman. “It has been an amazing four years competing at this school and with this team, and I am upset that it is coming to an end. I was disappointed after losing to Princeton, especially having beaten them the past four years in a row. But this was the first match in a while where I feel that the players, team and coaches really came together. Before this match, our results were all over the place.”
The women lost 7-2, with senior and women’s captain Rachel Scherman taking the No. 2 position and junior Margaux Losty taking No. 3.
The next day’s games against Penn were no more fruitful, ending in 8-1 and 9-0 losses for the men and women, respectively. The only set Cornell won was for the men in the No. 4 position by junior Jordan Brail, for his third victory of the season.
“Princeton and Penn are both ranked pretty far above us,” Scherman said. “Princeton is [No.] 4 and Penn is [No.] 2, we’re [No.] 7, so to be honest, I don’t think it affected our confidence that much because they are, on paper, better teams than us. We came into each match thinking ‘You know what — let’s just give it all we got, we’ve got nothing to lose.’”
Last weekend’s losses dropped the women’s Ivy League conference record to 3-4 and the men’s to 1-6.
Considering that the entire squash program at Cornell did not have a head coach until the end of October, nobody is exceedingly distressed about how the season as a whole turned out.
“There is always a difficult transition period when adapting to the new training methodologies and tactics of a new coach, especially when the coach has to learn a lot about coaching a college team in a very short period of time,” Freeman said.
Palmer detailed his outlook for the men’s team, whose College Squash Association Nationals are this weekend. They are currently ranked 11th in the league and will most likely be seeded into the B-division.
“We’re playing Navy first round, so it’s a tough match, it’s one that we should win,” Palmer said. “[O]ur main focus these days … will be to try to really focus on getting a good win, hopefully a convincing win, so we don’t have to totally go to the distance and, obviously, I think that’s a key: to try to win the first match as easily as possible and get early wins on the board. That gets us time to recover before the potential match against Princeton on Saturday afternoon.”
Ranked seventh, the women will be heading to the A-division of nationals at the end of this month, from the 24th to the 26th.
“This week our main focus is still working on fitness,” Palmer said. “There were a few matches, on particularly the Penn weekend, a few matches where I felt the girls possibly were not as fit and that let them down a little bit in close matches, so we’re gonna work hard this week on fitness … trying to obviously get them ready so they’re peaking for the following Friday.”