The Columbia men’s squash team capped off its 2011-2012 season with a spectacular finale at Nationals in Princeton, N.J., by defeating the Naval Academy and Williams College. On Sunday, the Lions proceeded to the finals, but ultimately lost to Penn, one match short of gaining the bracket title.
The College Squash Association National Team Championships were not easy for the Light Blue. Columbia was placed in the B Bracket with seven other teams, all tougher opponents than the C-bracket foes the Lions faced last year. The Lions had already played all seven teams during the regular season, losing to five—St. Lawrence, Middlebury, Williams, Penn, and Navy. Against three of the former opponents—the Naval Academy, Williams, and Penn—Columbia had only won five out of 27 individual matches.
But the Lions would ultimately defy the odds. Friday and Saturday saw a series of strong performances by the No. 14 Lions. After a hard-fought 5-4 win against No. 11 Navy on Friday, the Lions again surprised the crowd by defeating No. 10 Williams, 5-4. Both matches followed a similar pattern, with one guaranteed win from first-seed freshman star Ramit Tandon. Tandon crushed his opponents with three straight-sets wins. Many of Columbia’s wins required more than four sets, including freshman Thomas Galluccio’s thrilling win against Navy, 8-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-8, 12-10, and junior co-captain Tony Zou’s comeback win against Williams, 11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 1-11, 11-9. The Light Blue won both matches, 5-4, giving it a deserved ticket to the final.
But No. 9 Penn was too much for the Light Blue to overcome. On Sunday at noon, the Lions fell to the Quakers, 1-8. Penn came out strong after beating Bates and St. Lawrence with respective scores of 8-1 and 5-4.