Men’s squash registered three upset victories to win the College Squash Association Hoehn Cup (B Division) for the second year in a row over the weekend in Hartford, Conn.
The Colonials (13-12) kicked off their tournament weekend with a 5–4 win over No. 10 Western Ontario Friday, before following up with a 7–2 win over No. 11 St. Lawrence Saturday to advance to the Hoehn Cup finals. GW downed No. 13 Drexel 6–3 on Sunday to wrap up the championship and reclaim the cup.
“They felt they could win it, but I’m not sure how much confidence they had that they were going to win it,” head coach Wendy Lawrence said. “After their first match against Western Ontario, then all of a sudden the whole dynamic changed, and they really began to feel that this really was possible.”
The tournament win caps off an up-and-down season for the squad. The Colonials struggled to win matches early on and midseason roster shakeups forced the Colonials to re-evaluate their push for a top-eight finish in the season.
The men’s program took home the Hoehn Cup for the first time last season and slid into the No. 9 spot nationally. The Colonials entered competition ranked No. 15 nationally but their victory returns them to No. 9 in the nation – tying the program record set last year.
The Colonials upset Western Ontario 5–4 Friday in a postseason rematch to advance to the semifinals.
In the last matchup Nov. 11, Western Ontario beat the men’s squad 5–4 and the middle and lower thirds of GW’s ladder struggled to overcome the Mustangs, losing by an average of 5.13 points.
Lawrence said the players were determined to be on the winning side of the rematch and believed they were “stronger” and “fitter” now than they were in their last meeting.
“They felt that Western Ontario was a target that they really wanted to avenge their loss in November,” Lawrence said.
Senior Moudy Abdel-Maksoud and sophomores Mohammad Alterki and Salim Khan found success Friday as the first three rungs of GW’s ladder, respectively. The trio edged out their opponents by an average of 2.4 points as the Colonials and the Mustangs traded matches, keeping the team score even throughout the contest.
Junior Ben Sim pushed his match at No. 8 to five games, but fell to sophomore Jackson Kay, pushing the team score to 3–3 with three matches to play.
Abdel-Maksoud shut down junior Matthew Henderson in a quick 3–0 victory, but sophomore Inaki de Larrauri fell to sophomore Akasham Rajagopaul 3–1, evening the team score to 4–4.
At No. 7 on the ladder, junior Jamie Oakley dominated Adam Van Wyngaarden 3–0, winning by an average of six points and clinching the team victory for the Colonials.
The Colonials notched another upset win over No. 3 seed St. Lawrence 7–2 to punch their ticket to the Hoehn Cup finals.
“The St. Lawrence match got a little testy,” Lawrence said. “GW ignored it and just pressed on and let the St. Lawrence folks implode.”
In the teams’ last meeting on Jan. 12, St. Lawrence bested the Colonials 7–2 as five Colonials extended their matches past three games, but fell short by an average of 5.27 points.
Lawrence said the men’s team had a “singular focus” of amending the past lack of physical fitness and player absences that led to the Colonials’ loss.
“Because they were at full strength and everybody was healthy, that they were confident after Western, that they could beat St. Lawrence and take it beyond,” Lawrence said.
Five members of the men’s squad up and down the ladder cleanly swept their opponents 3–0, winning by an average of 5.0 points. Sophomore Luke Stauffer got the ball rolling, dominating junior Aran Thawani 3–0 and giving the Colonials their first win of the matchup.
Alterki extended his match at No. 2 to four games against junior Karim Ibrahim. Alterki outscored Ibrahim 11–8 in the first game but fell 11–4 in game two. Alterki bounced back in games three and four to secure a match win 11–8 and 11–6, respectively.
Khan and junior Juan Sebastian Laguna recorded the two losses for GW, but pushed each match to five games.
The Colonials dominated Drexel Sunday 6–3 in the final day of competition to secure the Hoehn Cup.
The last time the two squads met, GW took down the then-No. 11 team 8–1, recording wins up and down the ladder by an average of 4.08 points.
Drexel senior Luke Willemse did not appear in the previous matchup, leading the Dragons’ lineup to shift, which caused six Colonials to face a different competitor than in their last matchup.
“We were a little worried about that, but I think they were happy to face Drexel,” Lawrence said. “They weren’t over-confident, but they knew that it was doable.”
Stauffer earned GW its first victory with a 3–0 clinical win over senior Ryan Leslie. The win evened out the team match score to 1–1 after Laguna was swept 3–0 by an average of eight points.
Khan added to the win column, making the team match score 2–1 in favor of the Colonials. He fell behind in game one 7–1 to sophomore Dylan Kachur, but clawed his way back to close the gap and secure a game-one win 11–9. After settling in, Khan kept a steady lead over Kachur in game two to win 11–6. He finished off the match with a back-and-forth, tough-fought 11–9 win.
Senior Julian Jervis’ 3–1 victory over freshman Filip Krueger propelled the Colonials to a commanding 3–1 team match lead over the Dragons.
Sim tacked on a win against junior Nathaniel Chan, pushing the team match score to 4–1. Sim bested Chan 3–0 at No. 8 on the ladder by an average of 4.67 points.
Oakley’s 3–0 win at No. 7 on the ladder clinched the Hoehn Cup for the Colonials with a 5–1 team match score. Oakley bested senior Royston Raymond by an average of 4.67 points to wrap up the weekend.
“When we got ranked at one point, about three weeks ago, at 16, down from nine where we started the season, it was a bit of a disappointment,” Lawrence said. “They hadn’t been down to 16 in a couple years, and they hated it. So that was motivation enough for them to try to win.”
An athletic department spokeswoman declined to facilitate interviews with student-athletes after competition, citing a department policy.
This article appeared in the February 19, 2019 issue of the Hatchet.