Wesleyan’s squash teams traveled to Williamstown, Mass. to participate in the NESCAC championship this past weekend. The sixth-seeded men’s team had hope of making a deep run with its lineup at full health, while the ninth-seeded women sought to win their play-in game and cause some turmoil in their bracket. The men finished one place above their seeding and went 3-1 on the weekend, while the women lost in the first round but garnered two victories in the consolation round, ending 2-1.
On Friday, the men faced 11th-seeded Tufts in a play-in game with Middlebury. Having already bageled the Jumbos earlier this season, Wesleyan breezed by them into the next round, winning every match 3-0.
On Saturday at lunchtime, the men played one of their most important matches of the season to date. Wesleyan had a chance to take down the Panthers, to whom they had fallen 6-3 in December. A win would have advanced them further in the NESCAC and propelled them up the national rankings, but Middlebury eked it out 5-4 in a hotly contested but ultimately disappointing match for the Cards.
Middlebury was playing without its number seven, so Wesleyan predicted having success at the bottom of the ladder, but Grant Lounsbury ’17 fell apart after taking a 2-1 lead, giving away the match to the Panthers’ usual number 10. Despite wins in four from Chris Hart ’17, Daniel Sneed ’15, and Guy Davidson ’16 and an impressive five-game victory for David Sneed ’17, the Cards fell short. Agonizingly close to exceeding expectations, they were booted into the consolation bracket.
The men had a chip on their shoulder going into their first consolation match against seventh-seeded Amherst on Sunday, having lost to the Lord Jeffs just a week ago with an injury-laden lineup. Davidson won his most impressive victory of the year, beating the talented Noah Browne. His triumph capped an impressive match for the Birds and was a key factor in Davidson being named NESCAC Men’s Squash Player of the Week. Four sophomores ensured a 5-4 victory for the Cards, with Hart winning in three, Alex Kamisher in four, Lounsbury in five, and David Sneed in five, after falling two games behind.
With momentum building, the Cards zeroed in on Colby the following day, knowing that a win would secure them fifth place in the NESCAC, which would be their highest-ever finish. Unfortunately, two regulars, Kamisher and Lounsbury, had fallen ill and were out of the lineup. Impressively, the Cards adjusted well and snuck by the Mules 5-4 again, with Davidson and Hart winning in three, Raheem Logan ’16 and Zachary Roach ’17 in four, and, David Sneed in five.
With his victory, David Sneed capped a 4-0 weekend, including two five-set match wins. The victory over Colby placed Wesleyan fifth in the conference, one place above its seed, and the result was the team’s best to date in the NESCAC tournament. The younger Sneed indicated his satisfaction with the weekend as well as with the effort and camaraderie that the team displayed.
“What stood out to me most this weekend was that every single person on our team won a match that contributed to one of our 5-4 wins, or our 4-5 loss,” Sneed said. “So basically, in must-win matches, especially against Amherst and Colby, those who lost against one team beat the other, and we were able to step up and deliver five crucial victories in each of our last two matches, helping secure our highest-ever finish at NESCAC. It was an inspiring weekend, and the team atmosphere going into nationals couldn’t be better.”
The women’s weekend was not quite as inspiring. In its play-in game on Friday, the women engaged in a rematch against Colby, to whom they had fallen 6-3 two weeks prior. The stakes were especially high in this match because top-seeded Trinity awaited them in the quarterfinal, and, although the Cards had no realistic chance of beating the Bantams, it would have provided the undefeated Laila Samy ’18 her most challenging competition of the season. Although Samy did her part, destroying her Colby opponent, the team could not find five victories, despite wins from Ashley Suan ’18, Annie Maxwell ’15, and Annie Ferreira ’17.
Knocked out of the running, the women faced less challenging opposition in the consolation bracket. They competed only against the 10th-seeded Tufts and 11th-seeded Conn College, whom they beat 8-1 and 9-0, respectively. Samy sat both matches and the women ended the weekend ninth in the NESCAC with an 8-11 record.
The women travel to Boston this weekend to participate in Nationals, and the men will have this weekend off to prepare for Nationals in two weeks at both Trinity and Wesleyan.