CHAMPIONSHIP BRACKETS l 2012: PRINCETON 5, TRINITY 4
It was only one year ago when Princeton made national headlines by ending Trinity's 13-year reign atop men's collegiate squash. The Tigers will look to match that effort this weekend when they head to Yale for the three-day CSA Potter Cup Championships.
Princeton will enter the tournament as the second seed (the same as it was last season), and it will open competition Friday at 11:30 am against seventh-seeded Franklin & Marshall. The winner will play in the Saturday semifinal against either third-ranked Harvard or sixth-ranked Rochester; that semifinal will be played Friday at 2:30 pm.
Princeton is 10-2 and won its 18th straight Ivy League championship after going 6-1 in league play. The Tigers shared the title with Harvard, though they earned the second seed thanks to their 5-4 victory over the Crimson in mid-January. The expected rematch would be for a spot in the 2013 national team final, which would be Sunday at 12:30. Trinity is the top seed and will likely see either fourth-seeded Yale or fifth-seeded Cornell in the other semifinal.
Princeton opened its season with a 9-0 victory over Franklin & Marshall, though the Diplomats have shown great improvement over the season and nearly upset fifth-ranked Cornell one day after the Big Red defeated Princeton. Cornell held on for a 5-4 victory, thanks in part to a 15-13 win in the fifth game at the No. 8 position and a 13-11 win in the fifth game at the No. 4 spot.
If Princeton moves past Friday, then it would see one of two teams it played prior to the finals break. Princeton defeated Harvard 5-4 on Jan. 13 in the Jadwin Courts in a match that featured the last two individual national champions. Reigning champion Ali Farag of Harvard topped Princeton senior Todd Harrity in four games, though Princeton won five of the remaining eight matches to take the win. The highlight victory came at the No. 2 spot, when sophomore Samuel Kang overcame late cramping and hit a diving winner on match ball to claim an 11-9 victory in the fifth game.
Of course, Rochester could become the second straight sixth seed to win its opening round match, matching Cornell's effort over Yale from last season. The Yellowjackets lost 5-4 to Harvard during the regular season, and they pushed Trinity in a 5-4 loss in late January. Princeton defeated Rochester 7-2 in a December match at Jadwin.
If Princeton returns to the national final, it would be its ninth national final in the last 12 years. Top-ranked Trinity scored a 6-3 win over Princeton last weekend, while the Tigers split their two road matches with Yale and Cornell. Princeton defeated Yale 6-3 at the Brady Squash Center, site of this weekend's championships, while Cornell scored a tight 5-4 home win over Princeton two weeks ago.
Princeton will be led by senior co-captains Harrity and Steve Harrington, as well as 2012 All-Americas Kang and Tyler Osborne. Junior Dylan Ward has been very strong at the No. 4 spot this season, including a match-clinching win against Harvard, and he ignited the comeback win over Trinity in the national final last season with a 3-1 win at the No. 7 spot.
Sophomores Taylor Tutrone and David Hoffman, as well as freshmen Vivek Dinodia and Michael LeBlanc, will all be making their Potter Cup debuts this weekend. Any of the four could have critical matches throughout the weekend, and each has at least one victory over a Top-6 opponent this season.