The 2022 National Collegiate Men’s Team Championship match on Sunday afternoon between No. 1 seed Penn and No. 2-ranked Harvard in front of a capacity crowd at the Penn Squash Center was an instant classic. Harvard edged into the lead multiple times, only to have Penn strike back to tie the score. In the end, Harvard prevailed at the crucial time, clinching the 5-4 victory.
The match started with the Numbers 1, 4, and 9s on court, and the players treating the raucous crowd to some excellent squash. Penn’s No. 9 Roger Baddour gave the Quakers a quick 1-0 lead with a 3-0 win, but the next team point took some to arrive.
Two of the best players in the country – Harvard’s Victor Crouin and Penn’s Andrew Douglas – traded blows throughout their match. The skill on display was remarkable as Douglas jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Crouin clawed back a game in the third. Douglas looked to be in the driver’s seat in the fourth game, even getting to match ball, but a few errors opened the door for Crouin to get back into the match. The epic contest went back and forth in the deciding game before Crouin reached the finish line first with a monumental 12-10 win and a vital first point for Harvard.
The tie was short-lived this time, with Penn’s Nick Spizzirri taking down George Crowne of Harvard in a five-game thriller. Like Crouin, Crowne came from back from two games down, but Spizzirri shut the door to give Penn a 2-1 lead after the first wave of matches.
The intensity did not stop with the second wave, however, as two more matches went to five games. First, Harvard’s Sam Scherl at No. 3 gave the Crimson the bounce-back they needed with a steady 3-0 win over James Flynn. Then, the two five-gamers in the second wave told opposite stories. Harvard’s Liam Rotzoll managed to break through Penn’s depth at No. 7, coming back from a 1-2 deficit to outlast Yash Bhargava. But at No. 5, Penn’s Dillon Huang crafted a 95-minute comeback which sent the crowd roaring and tied up the match again.
The third wave of matches got off to an even start with each team capturing a relatively quick 3-0 victory. The match at Number 2 was a rematch of the 2020 National Intercollegiate Individual Final between Penn’s Aly Abou El Einen and Harvard’s Marwan Tarek. Like that previous meeting, Tarek claimed the victory to give Harvard it’s fourth point.
The final result now hinged on a match between two CSA rookies – Harvard’s Ido Burstein and Penn’s Nathan Tze Bing Kueh – in the No. 6 position. Burstein captured the critical first game win, 11-9, working to silence the partisan home crowd. He then stormed through the second game, winning 11-2. Burstein was clinical from that point forward, forcing errors from Kueh who had had a marathon match during the previous day. In the end, Burstein clinched the match and the championship with a third game win, sending the Harvard contingent into delirium.
The Championship was the third straight title for Harvard’s men’s team and the 34th championship in program history.
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