In its final tune-up before Collegiate Squash Team Nationals, the squash team defeated St. Lawrence University and put itself in position for a possible postseason rematch with Massachusetts Institute of Technology.When the Yellowjackets visited St. Lawrence this weekend they knew that a victory would be important for both their confidence and their seeding at Nationals.
Part of the reason the match had such serious postseason implications was due to the close two teams’ close proximity in the national polls.”It was a must-win,” junior Drew Chapman said. “We knew we had to beat [St. Lawrence]. If not, we would have traded places with them in the rankings.”
UR is ranked 23rd overall and one spot ahead of the Saints at No. 24.At the conclusion of the first round, both teams were knotted at 2-2, and it appeared that the match would play out closely as expected.
At the No. 7 spot, freshman Max Benjamin was up two games to one before St. Lawrence’s Mike Whaley fought back to steal a pair of games and the lead. At this point, the Saints looked to snatch control of the momentum and secure a team victory.
After Whaley gained a 6-8 edge late in the game, hope of a victory seemed to dim for Benjamin and the Yellowjackets.
But the freshman refused to surrender without a fight. Benjamin fought off three consecutive match points before eventually clinching the match 10-8, and helping UR to a win.
“Max was simply amazing,” senior Pete Avitable said. “It was a great comeback win. It could have gone either way but he kept on fighting.”Junior Dave Easwaren, freshman Billy Ferzoco, sophomore Dave Sokoloff and Chapman were also victorious for the Yellowjackets on Sunday, at the No. 2, No. 3, No. 6 and No. 7 spots, respectively. The win for Benjamin also marked the first five-match win of his career.
In their first matchup of the weekend, the Yellowjackets took on heavily favored Hobart University on Sunday.
Beating 12th-ranked Hobart was not a top priority for UR, who was much more concerned with stealing a win the following day against St. Lawrence.
“The match was not very important,” Avitable said. “We knew they were a more experienced team and didn’t put too much pressure on ourselves to win.”
Senior Allen Fitzsimmons was the lone Yellowjacket to come away with a game against the Statesmen, falling to Hobart’s Tejvir Rathore at the No. 1 spot by a score of 4-9, 4-9, 9-7, 7-9.
Now the team will wait to find out who it will play in the opening round of Nationals. There is a strong possibility that the Yellowjackets will be scheduled to face MIT, the team who dealt them a heartbreaking 5-4 loss less than three weeks ago.
UR is looking forward to the opportunity to avenge the Feb.1 defeat.
“The MIT match was a really tough loss for us,” Avitable said. “The match was so close and we’ve been hoping for a chance to play them again. We want another crack.”
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