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Trinity Men’s Squash Tops Harvard in National Championship

Photo (also used in splash page) taken by Dick Druckman
Photo (also used in splash page) taken by Dick Druckman

Bantams Finish Perfect Season with 14th Title in 15 Years

New Haven, Conn. – Fans roared in excitement and freshman Zeyad Elshorafy (Alexandria, Egypt) fell to his knees, overcome with emotion, after scoring the clinching point for the Trinity College Bantams men's squash team in the College Squash Association (CSA) National Team Championship (Potter Trophy) Final against Harvard University this afternoon at Brady Courts.  Trinity came back from an early 2-1 deficit to beat Harvard, 6-3, in a hard fought battle to win their 14th National Title in 15 years.  The Bantams close out the year with a perfect 19-0 mark, while No. 3-seeded Harvard ends the year with a 17-3 mark.  
"I always dreamed that we'd come back to win the National Championship after losing it, and here we are," Head Coach Paul Assaiante said, after the team clinched their their first title since 2011. "I wanted this for the guys and I wanted this for Trinity.  To see them work so hard and to be able to savor this moment…it was my dream."  
The title didn't come easy for the Bantams, who lost two of their first three matches to start the day.  Senior co-captain Johan Detter (Malmoe, Sweden) picked up a key 3-1 win to spark Trinity in the first wave and prevent the Bantams from dropping in a 3-0 hole.  Detter, who was honored as the Potter Cup MVP, played on the same court where the National Championship was decided last year.
"It feels so good right now," Detter said after his match.  "I was nervous heading in, but I knew I needed to win."
And his teammates backed him up.  Sophomore Moustafa Hamada (Alexandria, Egypt) was dominant in the no. 8 spot to start the second wave, tying the match with Harvard at 2-2 in front of a large and boisterous crowd.  Sophomore Vrishab Kotian (Mumbai, India) followed up with a strong victory at no. 5 to give Trinity a 3-2 lead.  After dropping the first game and going down early in the second, freshman Juan Vargas (Bogota, Colombia), playing at no. 2, came back to win the next three, which was a crucial swing for the Bantams, who took a 4-2 lead.  
In the deciding match, Elshorafy jumped on his opponent 2-0, before dropping the third game, setting the stage for the winning rally.  Elshorafy broke a 6-6 tie in the fourth game to win the next five points, as his teammates crowded the court to celebrate the return of the Potter Trophy to Hartford.  
"Being part of the National Championship team is a privilege – you can't ask for more than that," El Shorafy said, still winded after scoring the winning point.  "Losing the streak last year…everyone was hungrier than ever before, and being in my first year at Trinity College, I was just as hungry as the others, because it's an incredible family – once you join it, you're in.  You're in with all your feelings, you're in with all your attachment, you're in with all your loyalty."
The Bantams are 281-2 (.993) over the last 15 years.  Trinity has made it to the last 17 finals, falling to Harvard in the 1997 and 1998 National Championships.  Trinity has beaten Harvard in the finals six times (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2013).  The Trinity men and women both reached the finals this year for the first time since 2005-06. 

No. 1 Ali Farag (H) def. Reinhold Hergeth (T) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-5
No. 2 Juan Vargas (T) def. Brandon McLaughlin (H) 3-1: 6-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-6
No. 3 Nigel Koh (H) def. Miled Zarazua (T) 3-2: 8-11, 7-11, 11-5, 12-10, 12-10
No. 4 Karan Malik (T) def. Gary Power (H) 3-2: 11-6, 4-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8
No. 5 Vrishab Kotian (T) def. Tyler Olson (H) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-6
No. 6 Johan Detter (T) def. Tom Mullaney (H) 3-1: 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-6
No. 7 Zeyad Elshorfy (T) def. Zeke Scherl (H) 3-1: 11-8, 11-5, 8-11, 11-6
No. 8 Moustafa Hamada (T) def. Matt Roberts (H) 3-0: 11-3, 11-2, 11-4
No. 9 Alexander Ma (H) def. Matthew Mackin (T) 3-1: 6-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-7
Trinity (Conn.) 6, Harvard 3

Hartford Courant editorial

Hartford Courant column by Jeff Jacobs article