Cambridge, Mass. - Sophomore Michael Craig (Belfast, Northern Ireland) was overcome with emotion after winning the clinching match at the No. 4 spot in the final wave to capture the 2017 College Squash Association (CSA) National Championship (Potter Trophy) for the Trinity College men's squash team. Trinity, seeded No. 1 in the field, downed the No. 2-seeded Harvard Crimson, 5-4, at the Murr Center on Harvard's campus in electric fashion to capture its 16th national title. Craig was honored as the CSA Potter Trophy Player of the Championship for his outstanding play this weekend. He went 3-0 this weekend, dropping just two games, one to St. Lawrence's Karim Ibrahim in the semifinals and one this afternoon to Harvard's Timothy Brownell.
Finishing the season with a 19-1 record, the Bantams have now won 16 Potter Trophies in the last 19 seasons. The Bantams won the title each year from 1999 to 2011 and again in 2013 and 2015 prior to today, while finishing as runner-up in 1997, 1998, 2012, and 2014.
"It was a long, hard season," said Head Coach Paul Assaiante. "To beat these guys on their courts, it's impossible. We did a great job today."
Harvard took an early 2-1 lead into the second wave after a pair of victories by Devin McLaughlin (Villanova, Pa.) and Sean Hughes (Newton Square, Pa.), at No. 9 and No. 6, respectively. Trinity rookie Thoboki Mohohlo (Hartford, Conn.) put Trinity on the board with a 3-1 win at the No. 3 spot to cut into the Crimson lead before a big second wave gave Trinity control of the overall match.
Trinity junior captain Rick Penders (Maastricht, Netherlands) set the tone early in the second wave as he cruised to a 3-0 sweep at No. 2 to tie the overall match score at 2-2. No more than 20 seconds following the conclusion of Penders' match, Bantam sophomore Tom De Mulder (Gent, Belgium) won at No. 5 to give Trinity its first lead of the afternoon. DeMulder won, 3-1, but battled back from down 4-7 in the clinching game to come away with the win. A James Evans (Maidstone, England) win at No. 8 a few minutes later meant Trinity needed to win just one of three matches in the final wave to clinch the championship.
Harvard jumped out to early 1-0 leads in the No. 1 and No. 7 matchups but Craig won consecutive games at No. 4 after dropping the first. As Craig won his second game, Harvard secured the win at No. 1 to bring the Crimson to within one in the overall match. After jumping out to an early 4-0 lead, Craig's opponent, Timothy Brownell (Belmont, Mass.), went on a 6-2 run to cut Craig's lead to two. Despite the Crimson momentum, as Bryan Koh (Singapore) was on his way to a victory at No. 7 on the neighboring court, Craig staved off Brownell's comeback, winning, 11-9, as the rest of his teammates rushed the court to celebrate the championship win.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet," said Craig after the match, visibly exhausted but with a smile on his face. "I'm tired. I'm overcome with emotion. When you play for something that big, as big as that, it's hard to control your emotion. I was almost confused, I just started crying. It's an unbelievable feeling."
"We fought all weekend long, all season long," added Assaiante. "Congratulations to Harvard on a great year. I'm not sure how we got through that but we did. What a brilliant match."