Squash Serves Up Summers Cup Win at Nationals

By Stephen Etna

After a long season full of travel times exacerbated by inclement weather, the squash season finally reached its endpoint for the men at the Summers Cup, hosted at Harvard. With team nationals being divided into different flights, and with each flight containing eight teams, the Panthers, ranked 17th coming into Nationals, drew the first seed in the C Flight, also known as the Summers Cup.

Having found themselves in this bracket four times in the last seven years, the Panthers were aware of the challenges that were presented before them.

“Of 77 teams competing in the Division 1 squash,” Rob Galluccio ’15 said, “we were going against some of the best teams not to be in the top 16. With traditional powers like some of the Ivies in our bracket, we knew we were in for a tough weekend of play.”

While Galluccio was correct in assessing the Summers Cup field as challenging, the Panthers played with the confidence of the favorite. Play opened up Friday evening with Middlebury taking on a familiar opponent in Hamilton. Having defeated their NESCAC peers handily 9-0 earlier the season on their home courts, the Panthers played with a predictable swagger. The lineup played to its potential, with Parker Hurst ’14, Will Moore ’14, Harrison Croll ’16, Reed Palmer ’15 and Ben Krant ’17 all coasting to victories without dropping a single game to their counterparts from Hamilton. Having won handily against Hamilton, the Panthers prepared for a second-round match with George Washington University.

Against the Colonials, Middlebury also understandably entered the match with a degree of confidence, as earlier this season, at the Yale Round Robin, the Panthers defeated George Washington without much difficulty, 6-3. However, with George Washington having shown considerable improvement in recent years, and with many up and coming younger players, Middlebury did not make the mistake of underestimating its opposition.

The Panthers were jolted in the top two slots, where George Washington’s players beat the usually formidable duo of both Hurst and Andrew Jung ’16. However, Middlebury showed off the depth of its lineup following the initial setback, and went on to win every other match in the game.

Particularly impressive about the efforts of slots 4-9 of Middlebury was just how they won; after Middlebury’s number three player Andrew Cadienhead ’17 beat his man in five games, Middlebury did not drop a single game to George Washington thereafter, sweeping every match in three straight games.

Following the impressive win over George Washington, Middlebury went on to face Brown in the Summers Cup final.

Following the prevailing theme of the weekend, Middlebury had also defeated Brown soundly earlier in the season, but Brown proved more competitive this time around.

Following a tough start to the match in which Middlebury would only take one match in the first five slots, pressure was on the bottom half of the lineup to perform, or else lose the Summers Cup Championship.

Croll righted the ship, breezing to a shutout win in the six slot to keep Middlebury’s hopes alive. Showing some veteran savvy, Palmer and Galluccio both won their matches to draw a decisive battle at the seventh slot, with the score tied at 4-4. With everything riding on the performance of Will Hanley ’15, Hanley overcame an early deficit to win not only his match, but also the Summers Cup for Middlebury.

With the season coming to an end following their final victory over Brown, the Panthers finished with a final ranking of 17th nationally and an 11-8 overall record.

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