Princeton, the reigning Ivy League and CSA national champion, moved to 6-0 on the season with a thrilling 5-4 victory over the third-ranked Crimson. The Tigers are now 2-0 in Ivy League competition, and they already have a pair of victories over Top 5 opponents.
While the 2012 national championship win over Trinity will be long remembered as the standard for drama at the Jadwin Squash Courts, this day could stand with any other from the past decade. Only hours after the Tiger women knocked off top-ranked Harvard by the same score, Ward defeated Tyler Olson 3-1 at the No. 4 position to give the Princeton men a hard-fought victory.
"I thought it was a remarkable match this afternoon," said head coach Bob Callahan. "The two teams are as closely matched as they could be. It was a thrilling match, and I thought we were incredibly fortunate to win it. It was another great afternoon of squash at Jadwin Gym."
Princeton got at least one victory from every class, including freshman Vivek Dinodia, who won the biggest match of his young career over Matt Roberts at No. 9. That was followed by a 3-1 win for Princeton sophomore Tyler Osborne; the 2012 All-America topped former Harvard No. 1 Gary Power to open a 2-1 lead for the Tigers after the first shift.
The Crimson made it 2-2 at No. 8, but senior co-captain Steve Harrington overcame an ankle injury suffered a day earlier and fought off Harvard veteran Nigel Koh to win at No. 5. Koh played three spots above Harrington last season, but the Tiger veteran came up with one of the best efforts of his career to score the win; after dropping the first game, he swept the next three.
"I knew he was really a player, somebody who gets to every ball," Harrington said. "I was tired after the first game, so I changed up my plan and started holding ball more to misdirect him. I caught a second wind and started feeding off the crowd. It was one of the best moments of my sports career. I played some of the best squash of my whole life."
While Harrington was earning his win, there was drama ongoing on the main court. Princeton sophomore Samuel Kang looked to be cruising to a 3-0 win over Brandon McLaughlin, but five match balls disappeared in the third game and McLaughlin ended up fighting Kang into the fifth. The Tiger sophomore overcame cramping and the disappointment of the third game to battle back for an 11-9 victory in the fifth.
Harvard got to within one with a victory at No. 7, leaving two matches to decide the winner. The last two national champions would take Court 1, but Ward's goal was to minimize the drama. He raced out to a 2-0 lead on Tyler Olson, but Olson battled back for a win in game three. Ward took control early in the fourth and raced away for the win.
The win completed a dream day for Princeton, and Harrington felt that the women's win in the early afternoon played a part in the nightcap.
"It really did. I knew the Harvard team was number one, and from all I heard, our team was supposed to get smoked," said Harrington, whose freshman sister Tara scored a key win at No. 9. "We went down at noon to support them. We got wins from my sister, then Nicole, and then Hallie wins in five. When the team won, we were warming up and we looked at each other and said that it was our turn. They were definitely an inspiration for us. It quieted the Harvard fans a bit and changed the momentum of the day for us."
Princeton is now off until Jan. 30, when it will perfect season on the line against Penn at 7:30 pm at the Jadwin Courts.
#1 Princeton 5, #3 Harvard 4
1) Ali Farag (H) d. Todd Harrity (5),2,7,6
2) Samuel Kang (P) d. Brandon McLaughlin 5,6,(12),(8),9
3) Tyler Osborne (P) d. Gary Power (12),6,6,2
4) Dylan Ward (P) d. Tyler Olson 5,6,(3),2
5) Steve Harrington (P) d. Nigel Koh (8),6,9,9
6) Tom Mullaney (H) d. 9,4,6
7) Zeke Scherl (H) d. (5),9,7,0
8) Jason Michas (H) d. 9,6,11
9) Vivek Dinodia (P) d. Matt Roberts 11,5,7