Tufts bounces back from losses with win over Boston College

The men's squash team faced off against MIT on Jan. 27 at the Zesiger Squash Courts. Alex Knapp / The Tufts Daily Archive

The men’s squash team dominated Boston College in a 9-0 win on Monday night. The win saw the team bounce back from a pair of losses to strong MIT and Colby teams the week before, and it hopes to leverage that momentum as it enters this weekend’s NESCAC Championship.

Not allowing the losses to MIT and Colby to dictate its play on Monday night, the team used the weekend as a way to work on its nutrition before games and prepare for its next match against Boston College. Jumbo sophomore Sandeep Rishi turned in promising performances over the past week, as the only Jumbo to win in all three of the team’s matches this semester. The team went into Monday night’s match eager to turn that promise into their first win of 2016 and did just that.

In the late hours of Monday night, the Jumbos were able to channel their enthusiasm into a decisive victory. Sophomore Alec Goodrich considered the win a step in the right direction, with all nine positions defeating their opponents and boosting team morale.

“We were super happy to win tonight,” he said. “This is a big turning point in our schedule, bringing a win into next weekend is important.”

Securing such a dominant win in its last match before the NESCAC Championships is no doubt a confidence booster for the team.

“We were really fired up going into the match against Boston College,” Goodrich said. “The men’s tennis team came out to watch us and it’s always good to have support. We played at home, so we know the courts too.”

Tufts had not only the benefit of strong support while playing on their home courts but also strong performances from its first-years, who have already made big contributions to the team this season.

“[First-year] Cameron Ewan played as No. 1 seed for the first time and won, which was really great to see,” Goodrich said. “[First-year] Imran Trehan also played well and had a good match. We call him the ‘Volleying Machine.’”

The team’s first-years set the tone for the match, as Aidan Porges and Brett Raskopf won in the second and third positions in addition to Ewan’s win in the first position and Trehan’s in the fourth, giving Tufts a clean rookie sweep in the first four games to start off Monday night’s action.

Before Monday’s win, the Jumbos had fallen to both MIT and Colby in matches that had gone very differently. The 8-1 loss to the Colby Mules on Saturday was especially disappointing for the Jumbos, as they had hoped to pull off a win against the NESCAC foe the weekend before the conference tournament.

“Their ranking is much higher than [ours],” Goodrich said. “In squash, there aren’t Divs. I, II or III. Instead, there is just a ladder. So technically, we are a Div. I sport which makes the competition harder. We went into the match against Colby knowing they were ranked No. 20 to our No. 27 and knowing they were going to be tough competition for us.”

Rishi pulled out the lone win in the afternoon for the Jumbos, besting his Mule opponent in a hard-fought five-game match in the seventh position. Trehan put up a fight in the sixth position, also taking his match to five games before falling, as did his fellow first-years Alan Litman in the second position and Raskopf in the sixth, who took their matches to four games. The effort was not enough though to slow down a high-powered Mules team.

“We played MIT right before Colby,” said Goodrich, “and our practices were difficult since we were trying to improve some skills before the match. We didn’t have too much time to mentally prepare.”

Against MIT on Wednesday, the Jumbos fought hard in an intense match that culminated in a 7-2 loss.

“MIT is four spots above us in rankings and the match was definitely tough,” Goodrich said. “We went into it thinking it was going to be a difficult match, and it was. The ninth and eighth seeded players at MIT are actually girls, and our ninth seeded [first-year] Matt Memmo lost to a very talented player.”

The MIT match was the spring semester opener for Tufts, posing a certain challenge as the team tried to get back into form after winter break. The two match wins from Rishi and Goodrich, although not enough to best the Engineers, appeared to at least be a step in the right direction. Eighth-ranked Goodrich was forced into a fifth game by MIT’s Marina Crowe, though he pulled out the win with an 11-4 lead in the final game.

The team now looks to build up its energy and carry its momentum into its first NESCAC Championship match this Friday against Amherst. Tufts enters the tournament seeded ninth, with Amherst at eighth.

Junior captain Danny Fischer said that he was proud of the progress the program has made.
“As a junior it’s great to have seen the program grow, and I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, like being higher seeded in the ‘Cac this year than ever before,” he said.

With just twelve players on its roster, the team is able to rely on its tight-knit bonds and camaraderie in order to prepare for matches.

“We have been doing a lot of nutrition, even couples yoga,” Goodrich said. “It builds team camaraderie and since we’ve had a couple [of] injuries we incorporate this into our stretching sessions. The first-years are contributing a lot and it’s great to see them playing higher up on the ladder. It builds team morale to see those kids playing well, because that means that the team plays better too.”

According to Goodrich, the Jumbos’ goal is to work hard, build team morale and keep their intensity high through the tournament, hopefully carrying them to the final stage. Last year’s NESCAC tournament saw Tufts lose three straight games, so the team is eager to improve on that performance.

“We are finishing three spots higher in the NESCAC than we did last year, which says a lot,” Goodrich said. “We are looking at this tournament with a lot of optimism and are looking forward to Amherst.”

Fresh off Monday’s win, the Jumbos will be looking to upset the No. 22 Lord Jeffs at Trinity on Friday.