Men’s squash drops two, picks up win at CSA Team Nationals

Media Credit: File Photo by Arielle Bader | Senior Photo Editor

At the College Squash Association National Team Championships, the Colonials did not win the Hoehn Cup for the first time in three years.

Men’s squash wrapped up the College Squash Association National Team Championships over the weekend, finishing the season ranked No. 15.

The Colonials (10-13) opened up the weekend with a match against No. 11 Western Ontario (21-4) Friday. A 7–2 loss pushed the Colonials into the consolation bracket, where they fell 5–4 to No. 15 Brown (7-10) Saturday. The Colonials closed out the weekend with a 6–3 win over No. 16 MIT (14-10) Sunday.

The team finished the tournament ranked No. 15 in the nation, falling from their No. 9 ranking last season. It was the first time in three years the Colonials did not capture the Hoehn Cup (B Division).

“I thought physically, the team performed fairly well across the weekend because that’s always a concern when you have three hard matches back-to-back-to-back,” head coach Anderson Good said. “All in all, a little disappointing, but we finished strong, which was great.”

Friday

The Colonials dropped their first match of the weekend to Western Ontario Friday in a 7–2 loss that sent the squad to the consolation bracket.

Freshman Moustafa Montaser, playing at the No. 1 spot on the ladder, topped senior Matthew Henderson in three games to secure the Colonials’ first win of the day. Playing at the No. 2 spot on the ladder, junior Salim Khan overcame an 11-6 loss in his first game to win in four games, picking up another win for the team.

Three members of the squad – junior Inaki de Larrauri, freshman Karim Thabet and senior Juan Sebastian Laguna – extended their matches to four games before falling to their opponents. All other Colonials fell in three games.

“We knew the first match against Western Ontario was going to be really tough,” Good said. “I thought, all in all, things were OK for that first one.”

The Colonials last faced off against the Mustangs in the 2018-19 season, when the Colonials notched an upset victory over Western Ontario in the first round of tournament competition to earn its second Hoehn Cup in as many years.

The squad’s loss Friday pushed them into the consolation bracket, where it faced off against No. 15 Brown.

Saturday

The Colonials picked up their second loss of the weekend against Brown Saturday, falling to the Bears 5–4.

Montaser and Khan each picked up their second wins of the weekend. De Larrauri and sophomore Abbas Saeed secured their first individual victories of the tournament against Brown. Of the four, Montaser was the only one to defeat his opponent in three games, topping junior Maximo Moyer 11–9, 11–9 and 11–6 to secure his victory.

“Moustafa’s a very, very tricky person to play,” Good said. “Especially if somebody’s playing him for the first time, they’re going to have a very, very tough time getting comfortable.”

Saeed, playing at the No. 8 spot on the ladder, downed senior Blake Gilbert-Bono in a match that extended to five games. After beating Gilbert-Bono in the first two games, Saeed fell in the third and fourth. He came back to win the match in an intense 13-11 final game.

Four of the Colonials’ losses came in matches that pushed beyond three games. Senior Jamie Oakley, playing at the No. 3 spot on the ladder, and Laguna both pushed their matches to four games before falling to their opponents. Thabet and junior Luke Stauffer extended their matches to five games before being downed by the Bears.

“It seems like most of the close matches went Brown’s way,” Good said. “And unfortunately at Nationals that can’t happen, so that one was a bit disappointing.”

Sunday

The Colonials secured their first and only win of the weekend in their match Sunday, topping No. 16 MIT 6–3.

Montaser and Khan both picked up their third wins of the weekend. Montaser, who topped sophomore Aman Sanger, solidified his undefeated weekend in three games, while Khan overcame a loss in his second game against junior Joe O’Connor to win his match in four rounds.

“Salim’s just very consistent and very steady,” Good said. “He’s had tremendous developments in regards to this year.”

De Larrauri picked up his second win of the tournament, topping freshman Eli Kramer in three games. Three members of the squad – Thabet, Laguna and senior Geordie Laird – all picked up their first win to secure the victory for the Colonials.

All three Colonial losses came in four-game matches, finishing off a weekend of intense competition up and down the ladder.

“People were down after Saturday because that was a match that very well could, and honestly should, have gone our way,” Good said. “The ability to bounce back against a team of a very similar caliber was great.”

The win marked the end of team competition for the Colonials and the conclusion of a season filled with roster changes. It will also be the last time seniors Oakley, Laguna and Laird appear in team competition with the rest of the squad.

“Having done it myself as a player, it’s much more than just ending your college squash career,” Good said. “More or less your squash-playing career ends from at least an organized setting like this, so I’m sure it’s very bittersweet and I’m happy that they got to do it with people, with teammates and brothers like they have.”

While the team finished ranked No. 15 in the nation, six spots below its No. 9 finishes in 2018 and 2019, respectively, Good said he saw the win against MIT as a good way to end the season.

“It sends us off into the off-season on a positive note,” he added.

Selections for the men’s and women’s Individual Nationals Tournament will be made later in the week. Men’s and women’s program members who are picked for the tournament will play in Philadelphia over the weekend.

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