Hartford, Conn. – The Trinity College men's squash team, under the guidance of Head Coach Paul Assaiante (22nd season), capped another successful season as the team won its 10 consecutive New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) title and finished third in the College Squash Association (CSA) National Team Championships and No. 3 nationally in the CSA National Poll.
Trinity opened the campaign with an 18-game winning streak that stretched from early-December to the middle of February. During the run, the Bantams surrendered two points or fewer in all but one of the 18 matches, highlighted by eight 9-0 triumphs. In a battle of the top two teams in the country on January 23, Trinity scored an 8-1 win at home versus Penn. Against the Quakers, the Bantams went ahead, 4-0, dominating early with 3-0 victories to take each of the four points. The Quakers broke through with a 3-0 triumph in the No. 5 match, but Trinity rookie Tor Christoffersen (Malmoe, Sweden) clinched the match with a grueling 3-2 win at No. 8. One day later, against Rochester in a battle for the top-spot in the country, Trinity outlasted the Yellow Jackets, 5-4. The match started out in promising fashion for Trinity, as first-year Nku Patrick (San Fernando, Trinidad) won, 3-0, at the No. 9 position, while senior co-captain Juan Vargas (Bogota, Colombia) and sophomore James Evans (Maidstone, England) posted 3-1 victories at No. 3 and No. 6, respectively. Rochester answered in resounding fashion with a sweep of the second wave that set up for a dramatic finish. Trinity sophomore Omar Allaudin (Lahore, Pakistan) put a halt to the Yellowjacket momentum with a 3-0 win in the No. 7 match, giving the home squad a 4-3 lead, however Rochester answered with a win of their own to tie things at four. Sophomore Rick Penders (Maastricht, Netherlands) outdueled his opponent, 3-2, with an 11-9 win in the fifth game to break a 4-4 tie and give the Trinity College Bantams a 5-4 victory as Trinity remained undefeated.
After a 5-4 setback on the road versus St. Lawrence, Trinity bounced back with a shutout of Hamilton leading up to the CSA National Championships. The Bantams knocked off Columbia in the first round of the tournament, 8-1, before falling, 5-4, against Rochester in the semifinals. Similar to the first meeting earlier in the year between the two teams, the semifinals matchup went down to the wire as the Yellow Jackets pulled out a 12-10 victory in the deciding set of the last match of the day to advance to the Championships. It was the first time since 1996 that the Bantams were not a part of the national finals. Trinity salvaged third-place with a 5-4 triumph over St. Lawrence the following day, avenging their earlier loss to the Saints a few weeks prior.
At the CSA National Singles Championships, junior co-captain Affeeq Ismail (Kuching, Malaysia) won a Molloy bracket finals at Chelsea Piers. Ismail won three close games, 11-7, 13-11, and, 11-8, after winning on Friday and twice on Saturday to reach the finals, and automatically earned All-American Second Team recognition for his championship win.
After a highly successful year on the courts, the Bantams were rewarded with plenty of accolades. Penders was named to the CSA All-American First Team, while Vargas and first-year Michael Craig (Belfast, Northern Ireland) each graced the CSA All-American Second Team. Vargas was also named as one of three finalists for the Skillman Award, given annually to the nation's senior men's player who has demonstrated outstanding performance and sportsmanship during his career. Bantam first-year Tom De Mulder (Gent, Belgium) was named as the 2016 NESCAC Rookie of the Year, and Head Coach Paul Assaiante was honored as NESCAC Co-Coach of the Year along with Bates Head Coach Pat Cosquer. The Bantams also boasted three players on both the All-NESCAC First and Second Team, with twice as many players honored as any of the other NESCAC schools. Vargas, Penders, and Craig earned All-NESCAC First Team distinction while Ismail, Evans, and De Mulder landed on the second team. Coach Assaiante recieved NESCAC Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time in his career, having previously won the award in 2008, 2009 and 2013
Evans followed up a stellar freshman campaign with an even more impressive sophomore season. The Englishman went 20-0 this year to improve to a perfect, 39-0, in his career. Allaudin went 22-2 while Patrick had an great first-year as he compiled a 21-3 mark. Vargas finishes his career as a Bantam with a 56-17 mark after going 17-3 this year in the No. 3 spot.
Junior Zachary Bitan (Hong Kong, China), junior Graham Dworkin (Summit, N.J.), Allaudin, Evans, Penders, and Vargas were all named to the NESCAC All-Academic Team for their strong work in the classroom. Evans represented the team on the NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team.
Vargas, Derick Buffum (Cohasset, Mass.) and Camden Howe (Marblehead, Mass.) all concluded their Trinity squash careers this winter, having helped the Bantams compile an incredible 78-5 record during their tenure. In four seasons together, they won four NESCAC Championships recorded one perfect 19-0 season and won two CSA National Team Championships.