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Top-Ranked Men's Squash Falls to No. 3 Rochester in Heartbreaker

Senior tri-captain Affeeq Ismail
Senior tri-captain Affeeq Ismail

Rochester, N.Y. - In a match that came down to the final possible set, it was the top-ranked Trinity College men's squash team that found itself on the losing side of a 5-4 matchup against the No. 3 ranked University of Rochester Yellowjackets on Saturday afternoon at the Lyman Squash Center in New York. The loss is Trinity's first of the season and snaps its 10-game win streak since the first match of the season while Rochester improves to 7-1 on the year. The 5-4 win is Rochester's second-straight over the Bantams after defeating Trinity by the same score in last year's CSA National Semifinals.

Rochester took a 2-1 lead after the first wave thanks to wins at the No. 9 and No. 3 spots in the lineup. Trinity senior tri-captain Affeeq Ismail (Kuching, Malaysia) came back from down, 1-0, in the No. 6 spot to win, 3-1, and salvage the lone Trinity win in the early going. Rochester's Tomotaka Endo (Kawasaki, Japan) and Trinity sophomore Michael Craig (Belfast, Northern Ireland) battled at the No. 3 spot but Endo prevailed with an 11-5 win in the fourth set to take the match, 3-1.

Rochester went up, 3-1 overall, early in the second set after a 3-1 win by Matthew Toth (Vancouver, Canada) in the No. 5 matchup but Trinity sophomore James Evans (Maidstone, England) came up with a clutch win at No. 8 to keep the Bantams in it. Yellowjacket senior and No. 4 ranked player in the country Mario Yanez Tapia (Aguascalientes, Mexico) earned a sweep at the No. 3 spot to give the hosts a 4-2 lead heading into the final wave.

The Bantams needed a clean sweep of the last wave to come away with the victory and got off to a promising start after a 3-1 victory by junior Omar Allaudin (Lahore, Pakistan) at No. 7. Bantam rookie Thoboki Mohohlo (Hartford, Conn.) took an early 2-0 match lead at the No. 4 matchup, but dropped sets three and four by scores of 11-7 and 11-2, respectively, to force a deciding fifth set, needing a win to keep Trinity's hopes alive. Molholo battled, grinding out an 11-8 set win to clinch the match and tie the overall score at 4-4 with the deciding match to come from the No. 1 matchup.

Trinity first-year Kush Kumar (Chennai, India) took the first two sets at the top spot, 11-8 and 11-7, respectively, to push Rochester to the brink of loss before Ryosei Kobayashi (Yokohama, Japan), the second-ranked player in the country, answered with back-to-back set wins of his own to bring the entire afternoon down to the final set of the day. Kobayashi went ahead 5-3 before adding two more points to take a 7-3 lead. Kumar answered with a point before Kobayashi returned the favor to make it 8-4 in favor of the Rochester senior. Kumar found himself down 10-4 but rattled off four-straight points, featuring brilliant rallies by the two players, cutting the deficit to two. Despite the momentum for Kumar, Kobayashi ended the run and scored the 11th point to win the match, 3-2, and give Rochester the 5-4 victory over the Bantams.

1. R - Ryosei Kobayashi def. Kush Kumar, 8-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8
2. R - Mario Yanez Tapia def. Rick Penders, 13-11, 11-5, 11-4
3. R - Tomotaka Endo def. Michael Craig, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5
4. TC - Thoboki Mohohlo def. Ricardo Lopez, 11-6, 11-7, 7-11, 2-11, 11-8
5. R - Matthew Toth def. Tom De Mulder, 11-9, 11-13, 11-8, 11-8
6. TC - Affeeq Ismail def. Aria Fazelimanesh, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-7
7. TC - Omar Allaudin def. Lawrence Kuhn, 12-10, 11-5, 13-15, 11-7
8. TC - James Evans def. Micky Bertocchi, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4, 11-6
9. R - Ben Pitfield def. Yehia Essam, 14-12, 14-12, 11-9 
Rochester 5, Trinity (Conn.) 4