In difficult weekend, squash cements progress over last year

Media Credit: Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Junior James Reiss walks to the wall to wipe his palms of sweat in between games in his 3-1 loss to Columbia senior Mohamed AbdelMaksoud. The No. 17 men lost 8-1 to the Lions.

Women’s squash split Homecoming Weekend with a win over Columbia and a loss to Yale, while the men lost 8-1 against both teams, but both teams are positioned to finish the season ranked higher than last season.

The women kept their No. 8 national ranking with a 5-4 win over No. 9 Columbia.

With this win, they are still positioned to secure a spot in the A Division of the College Squash Association National Team Championship even after losing 8-1 to No. 4 Yale. They have control over their post-season fate with only three games remaining, all against lower ranked teams.

“We needed to win this match to stay in the A’s,” head coach Wendy Lawrence said, “Now, the only way we get bumped down is if some team below us beats a team above us; this match was only time we had control over staying in the top eight.”

The women won the B division last season, finishing ninth in the country. If they had lost to Columbia, the most they could have hoped for would be winning the B division again.

On Sunday, they earned their No. 8 ranking after No. 2 Breanne Flynn, No. 5 Emely Levyn, No. 6 Mary Jo Mahfood, and No. 8 Abby Shonrock racked up wins against the Lions.

No. 1 Anna Gabriela “Gabby” Porras defeated Columbia’s Colette Sultanna in three sets to clinch the Colonials’ victory. She finished Homecoming Weekend 6-0, winning in straight sets against both her opponents. Porras beat Jenny Scherl 13-11, 11-8, 11-6 for the only women’s win against Yale.

“Gabby is a game changer,” Lawrence said.

Gabby’s sister, No. 3 Alejandra Porras almost gave the Colonials a sixth win, but frustration got the best of her in the fifth set, dropping the decider 11-6 after previous set scores were 8-11, 11-7, 11-4, 7-11. Columbia’s Reyna Pacheco won her last two points quickly because Porras responded to Pacheco’s serves by hitting the ball as hard as she could without thinking about accuracy.

“She’s a little impatient,” Lawrence said. “She tends to go for shots from behind the opponent to try and get out of the point quickly, and that has been hurting her a lot this year.”

Porras has also been sick with bronchitis for the last three weeks and did not practice the week before Saturday and Sunday’s matches.

After losing to No. 6 Yale and No. 3 Columbia, the No. 17 men’s team is still in a position to compete in the B division at the CSA National Championship if they can outperform No. 12 Drexel in two weeks. Though the final score was lopsided, the Colonials from playing what assistant coach Brian O’Hora called “the best performance of the season,” against a top-quality opponent.

The Colonials only racked up two wins during the weekend, but they did manage to steal a few games from their higher ranked opponents.

No. 4 Nicolas Valderrama and No. 8 Josh Marks collected the only wins for the Colonials this weekend. Valderrama took Yale’s Liam McClintock in five sets, and Marks won 3-1 over Columbia’s Alex Nalle.

No. 5 James Reiss almost had a victory on Saturday. He took the first two games of his match against Yale’s Thomas Kingshott before Kingshott rallied from a 7-3 deficit in the third game and beat Reiss in five sets.

“He saw the finish line a little too early,” O’Hora said, “He eased off and the other guy got back into it.”

Against Columbia, Reiss and No. 6 Reid Breck won the first games 12-10 and 14-12 before losing 3-1 to their opponents.

The Colonials’ No. 3 Andres De Frutos retired from his match with a hamstring injury: He had lost two games and was losing the third 6-3 when he left the court.

The men and women take next weekend off before they play Franklin & Marshall and then Drexel and Virginia the following weekend.

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