Squash teams from around the world gathered in Connecticut for the 2016 College Squash Association championships over the weekend. The Rams were eager to see how they would fare on an international stage. They played some tough squash against some of the sport’s best and came away 1-2 over the weekend.
Fordham’s first adversary was a team the Rams knew well, the Haverford Black Squirrels. They handed Fordham their second loss of the season in a close 5-4 matchup back on Nov. 7. This weekend’s match was not the same close battle, as Haverford rolled to an 8-1 victory. Senior Kincade Webster managed the only Ram triumph over Nate Vestrich-Shade (11-7, 7-11, 11-9, 14-12). Seniors Jeremy Keller and Matt Crowe, who were both victors in the first meeting of the two teams, could not find the same result in the second.
If the Haverford loss could be characterized as a “bad loss”, the 5-4 defeat by the University of Chicago Maroons was a “good loss.” Webster continued his stellar weekend, topping Jonathan Abrams in the first position (11-6, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9). But the Maroons bested the Rams in the next four positions to take a commanding 4-1 lead. The Rams did not fold and resiliently took the next three spots to tie the score at four and bring the match to a winner take all ninth position. The winners were Crowe, senior James Potts, and freshman Robert Levis. “They played some gutsy squash, never giving up and in the end mentally stronger than their opponent,” said head coach Bryan Patterson. With the hopes of a victory on the national stage resting on his back, senior Paul Monaghan faced off with Raghunath Kadamangud. Coach Patterson knew the odds were not in his player’s favor: “Paul had not played for the team as he had had the last semester off and was nursing an injury to his knee.” Monaghan took the first set 11-7, but succumbed in the next three to secure a win for Chicago.
The Rams were 0-2 going into their Sunday matchup. A triumph over the Lehigh Mountainhawks was their last hope to leave the national championship with a win. They got just that when they topped their foe 6-3. Lehigh was only carrying eight players as opposed to the required nine, so the Rams had a 1-0 lead before they even took the court. Webster went undefeated on the weekend when he bounced Max Liu (11-4, 11-1, 11-7). Keller picked up his first victory with a (11-9, 7-11, 11-3, 11-1) trouncing of Gordon Newell. The Rams clinched victory, going undefeated in the sixth through eighth positions. Crowe defeated Jack Littlefield (8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7). It took three games for Potts to dispose of Alec Shimell (12-10, 11-6, 11-9). Finally, Levis picked up his second weekend win over Osama Eljai (11-1, 11-0, 11-2). The win puts the team’s final ranking at 39th and Patterson believes the finish makes a huge physiological difference: “It was the difference between being ranked in the 30s or finishing in the 40s. Although not a big difference, definitely a huge psychological one and I think that’s highest we’ve finished for a long time.”
The Rams finished up the season at an even 9-9. One tournament remains, and it will also be on a national stage. Next weekend, the team will travel to Stamford, Connecticut to compete in the CSA Individual Championships. However, that will only house individual Fordham players and not include team matchups. This past weekend’s tournament was the last time the Rams will compete as a team this season.