The men’s squash squad closed out its season this weekend in an impressive fashion in the semifinals of the “C” Division CSA National Championships. Originally seeded at a lowly sixth seed, the Cardinals powered their way to the tournament finals, squashing the hopes of higher-ranked programs in the process. Despite their resilient play, the Cardinals were stopped short of championship glory by conference rival Middlebury in a 7-2 defeat. With these results, the Cardinals will finish ranked 18th overall in the country, five spots up from their CSA preseason ranking.
Though Yale hosted the tournament, the Cardinals played their first two matches on their home courts. Play got underway Friday, Feb. 22 when Drexel University made its way to Middletown. The matchup was tightly contested throughout the lineup, with highlights coming from all over. After being named second-team all-NESCAC in his first season, Guy Davidson ’16 proved his mettle by picking up the most decisive victory of the day for the squad, impressing the packed courts with his poise in the 3-2 victory. Jeff Berman ’14, Blair Corbin ’15, and Raheem Logan ’16 all trounced their opponents 3-1. Once all the dust had settled, the Cardinals had pulled out a 5-4 victory.
That trio’s success continued for the Cards in the next round against the second-seeded George Washington University. Entering the matchup as underdogs, the Cardinals were not about to give up easily in their final home match of the season. Corbin, Logan, and Berman continued their undefeated tournament play, and sophomore Daniel Sneed played a crucial role in evening the match at 4-4 once the Cardinals had lost the #1 matchup. Berman put the team on his back for the final contest of the match with his deciding victory. Continuing his impressive play since returning from a semester abroad, Berman added to his 12-2 season mark with an impressive comeback victory. Originally in a 2-0 hole, the junior showed his underdog grit and carried the Cards to the finals of the tournament with a 3-2 victory and a 5-4 win overall for Wes.
In the finals, the Cardinals met with one of their bigger challenges of the season in the form of Middlebury. Wesleyan knew what to expect from the Panthers, having lost to them 8-1 earlier in the season. Although they played an exciting match, the Cards were upended 7-2. Well-fought victories came out of the #1 and #5 spots as John Steele ’14 and Zander Nassikas ’14 notched the lone 3-1 victories.
Despite the finals loss, the Cardinals are pulling several positives from the result as they move forward. Notably, the Cardinals have sported a lineup without seniors all season long; moving forward, Wesleyan will have a mature and experienced team for the 2013-14 season.
“I’m pumped about the team result,” said Mike DeLalio ’15. “It was a big weekend for Wesleyan squash, and we put ourselves on the map for teams in the division above us. Nobody will be confident playing us next year. Finishing second while seeded sixth is a big deal in college squash. Upsets are very rare, and two of them in a row was a special thing.”
The Cardinals pulled off a 15-8 record during what many saw to be a rebuilding year for a young team. Once this team returns for play next November, we should expect to see a serious conference contender.