Middlebury

Men's Squash Looks For NESCAC Crown

February 1, 2012

Five-time defending conference champion Trinity College will be in pursuit of a sixth title this weekend when the top-seeded Bantams host the 2012 NESCAC Men's Squash Championship. The three-day tournament kicks off Friday evening with first round action at Trinity's George A. Kellner Squash Center and continues through the weekend with championship bracket matches taking place at Trinity and select consolation matches at Wesleyan's Rosenbaum Squash Center. The championship wraps up on Sunday, Feb. 5 at 1:30 p.m.

Trinity (12-1) saw the most remarkable winning streak in all of intercollegiate athletics come to an end just a few short weeks ago. The 13-time CSA National Champions fell at Yale on Jan. 18 by a 5-4 score, a decision that ended the Bantams' unbeaten streak at 252 matches. No time was wasted following the end to the streak in starting a new one, as Trinity bounced back with a 7-2 win over Harvard on Jan. 21, the first of four wins entering this weekend's tournament. Trinity owns a 5-0 record against NESCAC foes, with all five victories coming during the fall semester. At last year's championship, the Bantams posted 8-1 victories over Colby and Middlebury before rolling past Williams in the final in a 9-0 decision.

The five-time champion Bantams will face the winner of Friday's first round match between eighth-seeded Hamilton (3-8) and ninth-seeded Wesleyan (10-8). Although the Continentals are 1-5 versus conference teams heading into the weekend, their lone win came over the Cardinals on Jan. 21 during the Pioneer Valley Invitational in a close one, 5-4. Wesleyan owns a 3-6 mark against NESCAC squads, most recently falling to Amherst, 6-3, and Williams, 9-0, on Jan. 28. The Cardinals advanced past Friday for the first time in tournament history last year, downing Tufts 9-0 before suffering a 9-0 setback to Williams. The Continentals, meanwhile, missed the quarterfinals for the first time ever in 2011, losing 5-4 to Colby in the first round.

Sixth-seeded Amherst (8-6) will take on eleventh-seeded Tufts (6-7) in the first round. The Lord Jeffs have played well recently and are 5-1 in their last six matches, four coming during the Pioneer Valley Invitational from Jan. 20-22. Tufts will be looking to get back into the win column after the Jumbos dropped a pair at the Maine Round Robin this past weekend. Against conference teams, Amherst is 4-3 while Tufts is winless in four attempts. The winner of Friday's match, the first meeting between the two this season, will take on third-seeded Middlebury (10-4). After coming up short in their first three outings this season, the Panthers have gone 10-1, the only setback coming at Williams on Jan. 22, 8-1. Middlebury posted a 7-2 victory against Amherst on Jan. 17, but the Panthers have yet to face Tufts this year. At the 2011 NESCAC championship, Middlebury recorded an 8-1 decision over Amherst to reach the semifinals for the first time ever before suffering an 8-1 setback to eventual champ Trinity.

Friday's final first round match features tenth-seeded Connecticut College (11-10) and seventh-seeded Colby (11-11). The Mules earned their highest seeding ever with the seventh spot and look to reach the quarterfinals for the third time in the last four years. Against the Camels on Jan. 15, Colby netted a 6-3 victory, one of three wins the Mules have in 10 matches against NESCAC teams. Connecticut College holds a 4-6 mark versus conference opponents, most recently falling to Middlebury on Jan. 29, 8-1. Friday's winner will meet second-seeded Williams (12-8) in Saturday's quarterfinals. The Ephs' success in the NESCAC championship has been second only to Trinity's as they have finished as the runner-up to the Bantams in each of the last five years. During last winter's tournament, Williams rolled to a 9-0 victory over Wesleyan in the quarterfinals, then downed Bates 8-1 in the semis before falling to Trinity 9-0 in the title match. The Ephs hold an 8-1 record in matches against NESCAC opponents, with six of the eight wins, including both against Colby and Connecticut College, coming by 9-0 scores.

Fifth-seeded Bowdoin (10-11) and fourth-seeded Bates (10-11) each earned first round byes, and these Maine rivals will meet in Saturday's quarterfinals for the second year in a row for a semifinal berth. In 2011, the third-seeded Bobcats ousted the Polar Bears from the championship bracket, 7-2, before coming up short to Williams in the semifinals. This season, Bates posted a similar score against Bowdoin on Jan. 25, one of seven wins in a row for the Bobcats heading into the weekend. On the flip side, the Polar Bears have gone 5-2 in their matches since the setback. Bates is 5-3 against NESCAC opponents, while Bowdoin is 4-5.

COMPLETE BRACKET

--courtesy NESCAC--