The University of Pennsylvania smashed both Red squash teams on February 6, pulverizing the men’s team and throwing the women’s team’s future competition eligibility into question.
Prior to facing the Quakers, the No. 7 men’s team (4-6, 2-4 Ivy) competed against the tenth-ranked University of Rochester (1-5, 4-0 Liberty) on Wednesday, Feb. 2. With star player No. 1 junior Veer Chotrani retiring in the third game with an injury, it was up to the rest of the lineup to step up.
The Red, looking to qualify for the Potter Cup, started strong with a 3-1 lead via victories by No. 9 freshman Rohan Iyer, No. 4 senior Charles Culhane and No. 7 sophomore Nick Robinson.
“Rochester was a good team performance,” said team captain Culhane. “We knew it was one of the most important matches of our season because they were ranked three spots behind us.”
The Yellowjackets fought back and tied the game at 3-3 before the final three matches. No. 8 junior Humza Khan won his match before No. 5 junior Nikhil Iyer clinched the victory for the Red. It was just the second Cornell victory in the last 12 meetings against the Yellowjackets.
Wednesday’s matches served as a good morale booster for the Red men’s team, who battled Penn the following Sunday. With its win against the Yellowjackets, it was able to maintain the seventh spot in the CSA rankings, which would allow them to compete at the Potter Cup.
The first-ranked Quakers men’s team, however, remained undefeated. The Penn powerhouse quickly shut down the Red, handing them a 9-0 loss, clinching the Ivy League title outright. Only four Cornell players were able to force a fourth game in their matchups.
“Penn is ranked No. 1 in the country, so we knew we had no pressure,” said Culhane, going into the Penn match. “We went in with good spirits, hoping we would challenge them, and we put up a decent fight, but lost 9-0.”
Even with the loss, the Red still holds its seventh-place ranking, allowing the team to still be in contention for the Potters Cup.
The men’s team returns home for three matches back-to-back-back beginning with No. 12 Western University (3-1) at 6 p.m. Friday, No. 8 Drexel (9-5) at noon on Saturday and St. Lawrence (14-4) at 11 a.m. on Sunday, all at Belkin Squash Courts.
“I think we need to come together in the next two weeks and make a final push to finish out the season strong,” said Culhane. “This weekend is super important for us to maintain our ranking, and we need to have faith that we can pull off more upsets at nationals.”
The No. 8 Cornell women’s team also faced the No. 9 Penn women’s team this past Sunday. Although the score was tight, the Red fell just short of victory.
Entering the final three matches, the Red and Quakers were tied 3-3 with early wins by No. 2 sophomore Wen Li Lai, No. 6 junior Alexis Shatzman and No. 1 senior Sivasangari Subramaniam. Subramaniam only needed 14 minutes to sweep her opponent and continue her undefeated season, now 10-0.
The Quakers responded and won the rest of the matchups to secure the victory at 6-3. With the loss, the Red and Quakers will most likely swap positions in the CSA national rankings, which would leave the Red out of contention for the Howe Cup. However, should they win their next match against No. 6 Drexel (12-3), they may still have a chance to finish in the top 8.
The women’s team returns home for its final regular season matches against Drexel at noon on Saturday before facing No. 20 St. Lawrence at 11 a.m. on Sunday, both at Belkin Squash Courts.