Tripleheader against No. 11 Columbia, No. 5 Cornell and MIT on Tap for No. 3 Men's Squash This Weekend

Tripleheader against No. 11 Columbia, No. 5 Cornell and MIT on Tap for No. 3 Men's Squash This Weekend

Zeke Scherl is second on the team with six wins (Gil Talbot). 

Scene Setter
The No. 3 Harvard men's squash team returns to Ivy League action this weekend, hosting Columbia Saturday at noon and Cornell Sunday at noon. After the Crimson take on the Big Red at noon, MIT will make the short trip to the Murr Center for a 4 p.m. showdown, as well.

Last Time Out
The Crimson stepped back out of Ivy League play and made the short trip to Amherst for the Pioneer Round Robin Jan. 19. In the opener, the Crimson toppled Western Ontario, 8-1, sweeping six individual matches. Senior co-captain Jason Michas outlasted Adam Engel, 11-7, 8-11, 11-3, 3-11, 19-17, to remain undefeated on the year, while Matt Roberts also picked up a five-game victory at No. 9, edging Kale Wilson, 12-10, 9-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6. In the second game, the Crimson breezed past Amherst, 9-0, losing just three games in the match and winning the top seven positions on the ladder 3-0.  

Related Article: Harvard Earns Pair of Victories Over Amherst, Western Ontario

About No. 3 Harvard
Harvard is 10-1 on the year and 2-1 in Ivy League play. Harvard has dominated its opposition in wins this season, sweeping eight of its 11 opponents. Reigning national champion Ali Farag is a perfect 6-0 on the year, playing out of the No. 1 position on the ladder. Upperclassmen Jason Michas and Tommy Mullaney (7-0) are tied with freshmen Matt Roberts and Sam Goldberg (7-1) are tied for the team lead with seven wins apiece. As a team, Harvard boasts an .888 winning percentage, going 95-12 in the first 11 contests of the year.

About No. 11 Columbia (Team Page)
The Lions split its two matches last weekend. Columbia narrowly beat Middlebury, 5-4, Saturday before falling to Williams, 6-3, Sunday. Overall, the Lions are 6-5 on the year and 1-2 in conference play. Ramit Tandon, who lost to Ali Farag in last year's CSA individual national championship title match, tops the Lions with a 10-1 mark, while Mohamed AbdelMaksoud and Graham Miao are tied for second with seven wins apiece. 

Series History Against the Lions
Harvard bested Columbia, 9-0, in the only meeting between the two programs on Feb. 3, 2012.

About No. 5 Cornell (Team Page)
After taking on Dartmouth Saturday, the Big Red will make the trip down to Cambridge to take on the Crimson. Cornell enters the weekend with an 11-2 overall mark and 2-1 Ivy League record. Nick Sachvie is the team's team top ranked player, coming in at No. 13 in the CSA rankings with a 7-3 record. Ryan Todd leads the team in wins with 11, while Graham Dietz (10-2) and Abhijit Malik (9-1) are close behind. 

All-Time Record vs. the Big Red
Harvard won the first 36 matches the two schools played and has won six of the last eight, including the last three, to lead the all-time series, 42-2. The Crimson won both of last year's meetings by 5-4 scores, knocking off the Big Red at home Feb. 5 before pulling off a dramatic come-from-behind win in the third-place match at the CSA Team Championships Feb. 19.

About MIT (Team Page)
The Engineers are 3-12 on the year after dropping their last four matches to Tufts, 6-3, Bowdoin, 9-0, Connecticut College, 8-1, and Amherst College, 9-0. Gary Riley, who has spent time at positions three, four and five on the ladder, leads the team with a 6-9 mark. Bowen Baker and Sunny Long are tied for second on the team with identical 4-11 records.

All-Time Mark vs. the Engineers
The Crimson has rattled off 42 consecutive wins against the Engineers to lead the all-time series, 52-2. Harvard has swept eight of the last nine meetings between the schools and 18 of the last 19. MIT's only two wins came back in 1955 when the Engineers edged the Crimson, 4-1, twice in just over a month.

Zeroing In
Harvard swept its first three opponents of the season for the 21st time in program history before finally losing a match to No. 6 Rochester. The three consecutive sweeps to begin a year is the longest streak since Harvard swept the first four matches of 2006-07. Harvard's program record for consecutive shutouts to begin a season is six, which it did it 2004-05, 1991-92 and 1972-73. The program record for shutouts in a season is 12, set by the 1991-92 team and equaled by the 1994-95 squad. Thus far, Harvard has swept eight of its 11 opponents with No. 5 Rochester and No. 1 Princeton winning the only matches against the Crimson.

Coach's View
Assistant coach Luke Hammond is now blogging to give fans an inside perspective of the Harvard men's and women's squash teams. The blog will be periodically updated throughout the season, recapping the latest results and highlighting other interesting tidbits about the squad.

Related Link: Harvard Squash Blog 

Undefeated Ali
Junior Ali Farag is a perfect 22-0 in his Harvard squash career. The Egypt native went 16-0 last season, including an 11-0 mark at the No. 1 position, en route to the individual CSA title and is off to a 6-0 start this year after picking up wins against Dartmouth, Rochester, Bates, Penn, Princeton and Western Ontario.

Successful Starts
Harvard is 56-1 in its last 57 opening matches dating back to 1956. Harvard started the year 8-0 for the second straight season after beginning last year 10-0.

Meet the Captains
Jason Michas and Zeke Scherl were voted co-captains for the 2012-13 season. Michas, who also served as a co-captain last year, is one of three undefeated players on the squad, while Scherl is 6-1 and tied for the second most wins on the team.

Welcome Back
Harvard returns nearly everybody from last year's squad with Will Ahmed '12 serving as the lone exception. Defending national champion Ali Farag returns for his junior season after posting an 11-0 mark at the No. 1 position and 16-0 record overall in his inaugural campaign in Cambridge. He's joined by fellow All-American Brandon McLaughlin, who finished 10-8. Overall, Harvard returns 97.6 percent (160/164) of its matches won in 2011-12.

Third is the Word
In the CSA preseason rankings, Harvard was ranked as the third best team in college squash. The Crimson sits behind No. 1 Princeton and No. 2 Trinity, who finished in those positions to conclude last season, as well.

Related Article: Men's Squash Ranked No. 3 in CSA Preseason Rankings

New Faces
Six freshmen have joined the squad for the 2012-13 season. They are Walker EvansSam GoldbergPeter JanulisJake MatthewsMatt Roberts and James Watkins. The sextet hails from four states (Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut) and three countries (the United States, South Africa and the United Kingdom).

Last Season
Harvard outlasted Cornell, 5-4, in the third-place match of the CSA Team Championships in Princeton, N.J. Ali Farag breezed to an easy victory at No. 1, while then-junior captain No. 8 Jason Michas and then-sophomore No. 2 Brandon McLaughlin both rallied from 2-0 deficits to lift Harvard past the Big Red.

Leading the Way
Mike Way, The Gregory Lee '87 and Russell Ball '88 Endowed Coach for Squash at Harvard University, returns for his third season at the helm of the Crimson. In just over two seasons, his teams have posted a combined 35-11 mark, including a 16-4 record last year. Both of his assistants, Reg Schonborn and Luke Hammond, are back for 2012-13, as well.

Related Video: Men's Squash Looks to Build on Success in 2012-13

Up Next
Harvard visits Brown Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.