Squash Teams Prepare for NESCAC Championship
Contact: Mike O'Brien
AMHERST, Mass. – For the second consecutive season, the Amherst College men’s squash team will face Conn. College in first round action at the NESCAC Championships Friday at 7 p.m. This season marks the first year the conference tournament will be held at Hamilton’s Little Squash Center with consolation matches to take place at Colgate’s Huntington Gymnasium. The 21st-ranked Jeffs (4-8) earned the seventh seed and will face off against the 10th-seeded and 25th-ranked Camels (9-10) with the winner advancing to face No. 2 Bates in the quarterfinals Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
The Amherst women’s team, ranked 17th nationally, earned the sixth seed and have also been paired up against Conn. College. The Jeffs (5-7) and 11th-seeded Camels (6-11) will meet for the first time this season in first round action Friday at 5 p.m. The winner moves on to face No. 3 Williams in quarterfinal action Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Amherst and Conn. College have not met this season but squared off three times a year ago, with the Jeffs sweeping their NESCAC rival. Following a 5-4 win early in the season, Amherst claimed a decisive 7-2 win in the first round of the NESCAC Championship. The teams met one last time in CSA Summer Cup consolation play in which the Jeffs edged out another 5-4 win.
Headlining the Jeffs lineup is sophomore Noah Browne. Browne excelled a year ago as a first-year and enters the conference tournament with an 8-3 record from the No. 1 position. Having won three straight to open the year, the sophomore has performed exceptionally well as of late, winning four of his last five matches. Max Kardon ’15 looks to continue his strong play this season, enjoying success from the No. 5 and No. 6 spots. The junior posted a 5-5 record and has won two of his last three.
Amherst has finished fifth overall the previous two NESCAC Championships despite entering the tournament as a lower seed. Last season, the Jeffs entered as the seventh seed and beat No. 10 Conn. College, 7-2, in the first round before falling to No. 2 Williams, 9-0, in the quarterfinals. Following the loss to the Ephs, Amherst moved into the consolation bracket and defeated No. 6 Wesleyan (5-4) and No. 5 Bowdoin (6-3) to claim fifth.
Trinity College, ranked first nationally, is the overwhelming favorite for the conference title once again. The Bantams have won all seven NESCAC Championships and are a perfect 11-0 entering this weekend’s tournament. Bates ranks 13th in the country but Williams, ranked 17th, has finished as the runner-up the past seven seasons. Wesleyan, Middlebury and Bowdoin are ranked 16th, 18th, and 19th, respectively.
The 17th-ranked Jeffs and 26th-ranked Camels have not met this season either but Amherst claimed a decisive 9-0 win a year ago. The Jeffs return seven players from last year’s match, each of which swept their opponent from the No. 3 position down to the No. 9 spot.
Following an impressive first-year campaign, Ericka Robertson ’16 earned the role as the No. 1 player for the Jeffs and has played from that position in 11 of the team’s 12 matches this season. However, Taryn Clary ’16 has led Amherst all season with a team-high seven wins. Playing primarily from the No. 7 spot, Clary has picked up wins from the No. 2 and No. 5 positions as well and is 7-5 on the season. She has won three of her last four matches entering the postseason tournament. Further down the lineup, Lena Rice ’14 has performed well this season from the No. 9 spot and looks to provide veteran leadership this weekend.
Despite falling to fourth-seeded Bates in the first round last year, the Jeffs rebounded to claim fifth overall at the conference championship and improved upon their seventh-place showing in 2012. Entering as the fifth-seed, Amherst claimed wins over No. 8 Hamilton (7-2) and No. 7 Wesleyan (8-1) in consolation play.
Much like the men’s side, Trinity will once again be the favorites to win the women’s title. Entering the championship ranked second nationally, the Bantams look to capture their eighth consecutive NESCAC title. The field will be highly competitive with Bates, Williams, Hamilton, Middlebury and Amherst all ranked within the top-20.