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Underclassmen shine in Virginia squash matches against Columbia

The matches were the last games before the Cavaliers play defending champions Harvard

<p>No. 8 men's squash was successful against No. 11 Columbia Sunday.</p>

No. 8 men's squash was successful against No. 11 Columbia Sunday.

Virginia squash faced off against ranked Columbia Sunday with mixed results. The No. 9 women’s team (8-4) suffered a 5-4 loss to No. 7 Lions (8-4), whereas the No. 8 men’s team (11-3) captured a 6-3 win against the No. 11 Lions (5-6). 

The victory for the men’s team not only means they finish the season undefeated at home but also marks the first time that the program has defeated the Lions since Virginia was promoted to a varsity sport in 2017. 

Strong performances came especially from the Cavalier freshman, who picked up four of the six points for the men’s team. Freshman Omar El Torkey led a strong opening attack for the Cavaliers with a 3-0 win in position one. Freshmen Aly Hussein, Teddy Durfee and Cullen Little also got game points for the Cavaliers. 

“Another very solid performance from the guys this year, who have gone undefeated at home this season,” Coach Mark Allen said. “Special mention to our first years, who together picked up four of our six points in today's match and looked very impressive in doing so.”

Despite the loss, the women’s team also saw solid matches from their underclassmen. Freshman Grace Seymour recorded the first point of the game against junior Doria Chen in position eight and following her lead, freshman Julia Curran claimed a 3-0 win against freshman Ellie McVeigh in position six with a score of 12-10, 11-3, 11-6.

Sophomore Emma Jinks also fought for an extended 3-2 victory against junior Habiba Mohamed in position one to take two more points for the Cavaliers while sophomore Mandy Haywood claimed a 3-1 victory against freshman Erica McGillicuddy 14-12, 11-5, 4-11, 11-8 in position two. 

In the end, the efforts of the team’s underclassmen weren’t quite enough to secure a victory for the Cavaliers, and the women fell 5-4 to the Lions. Despite the end result, Allen remained optimistic. 

“The women were so close today, coming within just a couple of points of taking the match against the seventh ranked team in the country,” Allen said. “It wasn't quite the breakthrough win and final result we were hoping for, but we are right there, going point-for-point with one of the very best squash programs in college squash.” 

The Cavaliers will now play their last four matches of the regular season on the road. Virginia will kick-off their road stretch against defending champion Harvard in Boston Friday night.