Eleven straight national titles, a 221-match win streak and the top national ranking: The Trinity Bantams are nothing short of dominant in men’s college squash. The men’s squash team has played second fiddle to the Bantams recently, losing the national title match to Trinity each of the last five years. Last year, Princeton was within points of beating them both during the season and in the national championship but came up short both times. The result was the same last weekend.
The No. 4 Tigers (10-3 overall, 5-1 Ivy League) fell behind from the start Saturday and never recovered in a 9-0 loss to the No. 1 Bantams (19-0). The loss marked the first time since the 2007 national championships against Trinity that the Tigers have failed to win an individual match against the Bantams.
Despite a season filled with injuries, the Tigers played with their full lineup Saturday for one of the first times this year. Even with the return of junior No. 2 Dave Letourneau, sophomore No. 3 Chris Callis and sophomore No. 5 Kelly Shannon, the Tigers could not unseat the Bantams.
“We expected that if we played well at every position, we could beat them,” Letourneau said. “I don’t think we were outmatched in any way.”
Letourneau said skill was not an issue, but mental toughness was.
“We competed really, really hard all year,” he said, but on Saturday, “That just didn’t happen.”
The Tigers had traveled to Hartford, Conn., the day before the match to make sure they were prepared and rested for their toughest match of the season. The Trinity crowd, which in past years had been notoriously rowdy and obnoxious at times, was calmer.
“The crowd was more respectful to us than in previous years,” Letourneau said.
Even with all these variables in place, Princeton could not pull off the win. The day was not a complete disappointment, however, as freshman No. 1 Todd Harrity pushed Trinity senior No. 1 and two-time defending individual national champion Baset Chaudhry to five games.
Letourneau refereed the match and said he was impressed with Harrity’s toughness against such a physically intimidating opponent. Chaudhry, who defeated Princeton’s Mauricio Sanchez ’09 in last year’s individual national final, stands an imposing 6 feet, 5 inches tall.
“Todd stood strong and played very hard, and I think he was very unlucky to lose the match,” Letourneau said.
While Trinity walked away with a solid team win, Harrity’s performance at the top position should be a cause for concern for the Bantams.
“What Todd did right there was he showed Trinity that they don’t have a guaranteed win at No. 1,” Letourneau said.
Though the scores made it look like Princeton was never in it, even Trinity coach Paul Assainte admitted that there was more to the story.
“It could have been different today,” Assainte told reporters after the match. “People will think this was a huge blowout. We know what happened out there.”
After the disappointing performance on Saturday, the men returned to Princeton for their final home match of the season against No. 10 Williams College (14-7). They rebounded with a 7-2 win against the pesky Ephs.
“Williams is a pretty deep team and tested a lot of our guys,” Letourneau said.
Junior Nikhil Seth won a very competitive five-game match, the only one of the day. Letourneau sat out, and players like junior Phillip Sopher stepped up to fill the void. Sopher took home a decisive 3-0 win at the No. 8 position.
Shortly before the men faced off against Williams, the No. 4 women’s squash team (7-3, 4-2) played its only match of the weekend against the No. 8 Williams women.
Williams (15-6) never had a chance against the Tigers in a 9-0 Princeton win.
The most exciting match of the day was at the top position between senior tri-captain Amanda Siebert and Williams’ Toby Eyre. Siebert had played Eyre the past two years, with each player winning one match.
“We always go back and forth,” Siebert said. “It’s always going to be a really long, hard match.”
Siebert lost the first two games, but she refused to give up and won the next two. In the fifth and final game, she struggled early in the game and ended up down 7-3. Seven points later, she was still down, and Eyre had match ball with the score at 10-7. Siebert pushed to the very end and got her first individual win of the season with a 13-11 victory in that final game.
The women will face No. 2 Trinity next weekend to finish out their regular season. The men move on to the national championships, where they are likely to get a second chance to beat Trinity.
“We all believe we can beat them. We have the talent. It’s just [about] putting it together,” Letourneau said.
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