In front of a large crowd of both students and alumni, the UR squash team battled hard in a tight 5-4 loss to Harvard University on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Peter Lyman Racquet Center in the Robert B. Goergen Athletic Center. The match, UR’s first at home this season, featured two of the nation’s top teams, with Harvard coming in ranked third and UR ranked fifth.
Despite the strong competition present, what was more important to the ’Jackets had to do with who was not present. For the past 50 years, the late Peter Lyman attended almost every squash match — as a coach for 44 years, and later as a spectator. Lyman’s passing in September left an absence in the entire University athletics community.
“I know he’s here in spirit,” current squash head coach Martin Heath said.
Although Harvard took the opening point at No. 9 with a four set win by Matt Roberts over UR freshman William Mohr, fellow freshman Faraz Khan quickly evened things up at No. 3 in a tight four-setter.
Harvard then stepped up to win three more points at positions No. 6, No. 8 and No. 2, pulling within one match of victory and putting the Yellowjackets’ backs against the wall.
Senior Oscar Lopez responded well to the pressure, winning in four sets at No. 5 against Harvard’s Nigel Koh. Each point won by Lopez was followed with an eruption of applause from the crowd, which appeared to energize the senior and help him come up with an array of incredible plays, none more impressive than his diving shot on match point to seal the victory.
Following Lopez’ performance, junior Karm Kumar extended UR’s hopes with a straight set victory over Harvard’s Zeke Scherl at No. 7, shifting the attention to the No. 1 match between senior Andres Duany, ranked sixth in the nation, and Harvard’s Ali Farag, the number one-ranked player in college squash.
After Farag clinched the first set 11-7, it seemed as though a long battle would ensue, but unfortunately for the home crowd, Harvard’s star proved why he is ranked number one, pulling away and winning the second and third sets 11-6 and 11-1, respectively.
In a match that would not be completed until Harvard had already won five points and clinched the victory, UR senior Adam Perkiomaki defeated Tyler Olsen in four sets at position No. 4, a result that led to a final score of 5-4 in favor of the Harvard Crimson.
The ’Jackets will be back in action on Friday, Dec. 7 when they travel to Lancaster, Pa. to take on Franklin & Marshall College, ranked seventh nationally.
Shapiro is a member of the class of 2016.