Hartford, Conn. – The Trinity College men's squash team, under the guidance of Head Coach Paul Assaiante (23rd season), returned to glory, capturing its 16th College Squash Association (CSA) National Championship (Potter Trophy) with a triumphant 5-4 victory over Harvard. The Bantams also won their 11th-straight New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) title and finished the season with a dominant, 19-1 record and the No. 1 ranking in the nation.
Trinity opened the campaign with an 10-game winning streak that stretched from mid-November to the middle of January. During the run, the Bantams surrendered just three total points, rattling off a remarkable, seven 9-0 wins. The last win of the streak came at the Kellner Squash Center on Trinity's campus where the Bantams dismantled then No. 2-ranked Yale, 9-0. Trinity's win-streak finally came to an end at the hands of Rochester on January 21st when the Bantams fell to the Yellow Jackets, 5-4, in New York. The Bantams answered with a 9-0 blanking of Cornell before running through the NESCAC Tournament en route to their 11th-straight conference crown, downing Bates, 8-1, in the title game.
Just three days later, Trinity handed then top-ranked Harvard its first loss of the season thanks to a 5-4 victory in Cambridge on January 8th. Sophomore Michael Craig (Belfast, Northern Ireland) came through with the clinching win in a grueling, five-game battle against Harvard University freshman Tim Brownell (Belmont, Mass.) at the No. 4 spot on the ladder, the first of his two wins over Brownell in an 11-day span. The Bantams ended the regular season with 16-1 record after an 8-1 victory over St. Lawrence in the final game before the Potter Trophy tournament. Trinity opened the National Championships with an 8-1 victory over Penn, led by first-year Thoboki Mohohlo (Hartford, Conn.) who yielded just 10 points in a 3-0 sweep at No. 3. Trinity beat St. Lawrence, 7-2, in the semifinals to advance to the National Title match against Harvard at the Murr Center on Harvard's campus.
Craig was overcome with emotion after winning the clinching match at the No. 4 spot in the final wave to capture the Potter Trophy for Trinity, winning his second match against Brownell in thrilling fasion. Harvard took an early 2-1 lead into the second wave after a pair of victories before Mohohlo put Trinity on the board with a 3-1 win at the No. 3 spot to cut into the Crimson lead before a big second wave gave Trinity control of the overall match. Trinity junior captain Rick Penders (Maastricht, Netherlands) set the tone early in the second wave as he cruised to a 3-0 sweep at No. 2 to tie the overall match score at 2-2. No more than 20 seconds following the conclusion of Penders' match, Bantam sophomore Tom De Mulder (Gent, Belgium) won at No. 5 to give Trinity its first lead of the afternoon. DeMulder won, 3-1, but battled back from down 4-7 in the clinching game to come away with the win. A James Evans (Maidstone, England) win at No. 8 a few minutes later meant Trinity needed to win just one of three matches in the final wave to clinch the championship. After a pair of Harvard wins in the third wave, Craig played the hero with the victory at No. 4 to lift Trinity back to the top of the college squash world.
At the CSA National Singles Championships at Dartmouth, senior co-captain Affeeq Ismail (Kuching, Malaysia) won, 3-1, in the finals of the Molloy East Bracket for the third year in a row, closing his outstanding career with a College-record 80 wins and just 12 losses.
Mohohlo was named as the 2017 NESCAC Rookie of the Year joined Penders and Evans on the All-NESCAC First Team. Ismail, junior Omar Allaudin (Lahore, Pakistan) and Craig graced the All-NESCAC Second Team. Mohohlo went 14-1 predominantly at the No. 3 position in the lineup, after joining the team in January, and was one of just three Bantams to won all three of his matches in the Potter Cup. He is the fourth Bantam to be recognized as the NESCAC Rookie of the Year, joining De Mulder (2016), Miled Zarazua Ramirez (2012) and Andres Vargas (2008). Penders, a three-time All-NESCAC honoree and a two-time member of the first team, compiled a 14-4 record this season while playing primarily at the No. 2 spot in Trinity's lineup, and was 2-1 in the Potter Cup.
For the third straight season, Evans has a perfect record, winning all 12 of his matches including all three in the Potter Cup. Playing mostly at the No. 8 position in the lineup this winter, after returning from a semester spent studying abroad, Evans owns the best individual record in Trinity squash history, up to 51-0 and counting. Allaudin paced the Bantams with 20 wins this season and yielded just three losses, while winning two of three matches in the Potter Cup while Craig, an All-American last season, was 16-3 after earning the CSA National Team Championships MVP honors.
Seniors Zachary Bitan (Hong Kong, China), Graham Dworkin (Summit, N.J.), Allaudin, De Mulder, Evans and Penders were all named to the NESCAC All-Academic Team for their strong work in the classroom. Allaudin represented the team on the NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team as well, and was one of just five athletes to be named to both the All-Academic, All-Sportsmanship, as well as the All-Conference team.
Ismail, Bitan, Dworkin and senior tri-captain Nicholas Giacco (Wilmington, Del.) all concluded their Trinity squash careers this winter, having helped the Bantams compile an incredible 78-6 record during their tenure. In four seasons together, they won four NESCAC Championships as well as three CSA National Team Championships.