The Men’s Squash team (9-8) posted a fourth place finish at the NESCAC championships, defeating Amherst 6-3, but falling to two-time defending national champion Trinity 8-1 on Feb. 2. The next day, Bates went up against Middlebury in the third place match, but ultimately fell 5-4.
The Bobcats pulled out a strong victory in their quarterfinal match against Amherst, winning the no. 1 and 5-9 positions. Graham Bonnell ‘20 won the no. 1 spot with a decisive 3-0 victory (11-7, 11-7, 11-5). Benni McComish ‘20 and Team Captain McLeod Abbott ‘19 each similarly won a quick three games at the no. 7 and 8 spots, earning two points for Bates.
Team Captain Coley Cannon ‘19 and Dylan Muldoon ‘21 won at the no. 6 and 9 spots 3-1. Garon Rothenberg ‘20 won a close match 3-2, with a final game of 11-9.
“We played [Amherst] the weekend before and won 7-2, which sounds like a beatdown, but was actually closer than the score said,” Cannon stated. “The NESCAC match against them was closer however, and the biggest win we had to help us secure the win was at the number 5 position. One of our juniors, Garon Rothenberg came back from 2-0 down and won 3-2. We would have been in trouble without that comeback win.”
In the next matchup, Bates went up against Trinity, losing a hard but expected 8-1. In this game, Bates was able to snag the win in the no. 3 position with a strong performance by Omar Attia ‘21, winning 3-1 (13-11, 9-11, 11-9, 14-12).
Finally, in competition for the third place finish, Bates fell to Middlebury in a tight 5-4 finish. Middlebury took the lead in the beginning of the game, winning the first two matches. Bates followed this with two wins of their own, leading to what was destined to be a nail-biting series of games. Middlebury pulled ahead 4-2 at the end of the sixth match, where they eventually cinched their win in the second to last match.
Bates picked up easy victories in the no. 1, 2 and 8 positions from Bonnell, Mahmoud Yousry ‘20 and Abbott who each won 3-0. Attia was able to earn a narrow win in the no. 3 spot 3-2 with a final game of 13-11.
“When we play a quality team like Middlebury we really lean on the talent at the top of our ladder and they certainly delivered,” Abbott said.
Bates previously lost 8-1 against Middlebury earlier in the season; thus, even though Bates lost the third place spot to Middlebury, a closer game in itself is a small victory for Bates, showing their progress throughout the season.
“Essentially, every year, Midd, Williams, and Bates compete for that second place spot,” Cannon said. “We have all been relatively equal in skill for the past four years, but this year they have been playing a little better under pressure than us.”
“The men are a hardworking group who have been very serious and focused on improving and playing winning squash,” said Head Squash Coach Pat Cosquer ‘97. “The diversity which exists on both teams adds to the fun we have had on the road and we look forward to a big finish next weekend.”
This is the first time in four years that Bates has not made it to the NESCAC finals.
“This season has really differed from past seasons because the competition in general has only increased,” Cannon said. “Squash is such a growing sport, and teams are increasingly recruiting internationally, which brings a whole new talent pool into the game. We [now] have to worry about teams that were jokes of matches when I was a freshman.”
While a fourth place finish at NESCACs is not the outcome that Bates had hoped for, they remain positive looking into the College Squash Association (CSA)
The National Team Championships take place this weekend at Yale University where they look forward to rematches against Brown, Williams and Middlebury in competition for the Summers Cup. At best, the team can place 17th in the country, as they are in the “C” bracket, and at worst, 24th.
“I see Nationals as a way for us to end the season on a really high note,” Abbott said. “We had some tough losses during the regular season, but if we can make up for it at the end, it’ll all have been worth it.”
No matter the outcome, the Men’s Squash team has once again put forth the kind of passion and determination that any college team would be envious of. Look out for them in online live streamed matches this weekend!
This article has been edited from its print version