Closing out the annual CSA National Team Tournament hosted by Princeton Sun., Feb. 19, the Cardinals defeated Stanford, 7-2, at the Lawrenceville School to place 23rd overall and seventh in "C" Division. Wesleyan posted a winning overall mark for the season with a 14-12 record, matching last year's effort as the winningest team in school history with the 14 wins representing the most in a season for the program. The Cardinals were hoping to break the record as they were seeded third in the division but suffered a tough 5-4 upset vs. Hamilton in the first round before falling to Amherst, 6-3, in the second round.
Meeting Hamilton, seeded sixth, for the third time in a month Fri., Feb. 17, the match was played at the Lawrenceville School. Hamilton had taken a 5-4 decision the first time the squads locked horns on Jan. 21 during the Pioneer Valley Invitational while Wesleyan had captured a 6-3 victory during the NESCAC Tournament Feb. 3. This time, Hamilton again prevailed by the narrowest of margins. As a result, Wesleyan met second-seeded Amherst in a consolation match Sat., Feb. 18 at Lawrenceville. Amherst also was the victim of an upset, falling to seventh-seeded Colby, 7-2. Amherst owned a pair of 6-3 triumphs over Wesleyan this season and came up with the same score in claiming its third triumph over the Cardinals this year.
Against Hamilton, #1 John Steele '14 (photo insert upper left) came through with the lone sweep of the match, winning 11-8, 11-7, 11-6. At #7, Ethan Moritz '14 (main photo) took a comfortable 3-1 decision, 11-6, 11-3, 6-11, 11-6. Also victorious for Wesleyan were #3 Mike DeLalio '15 and #5 Jeff Berman '14, both with 3-1 wins. DeLalio also has played every match and has come through with a solid 15-9 mark. Three Cardinals fell by 3-2 scores, including #6 Alex Nunez '14, who lost 15-13 in the fifth game. He had been a winner vs. Hamilton in the previous two meetings with the Continentals. Lucus Wherry '13, at #8, and Blair Corbin '15, at #9, also fell by a 3-2 count. Dan Sneed '15 (#2) and Zander Nassikas '14 (#4) dropped 3-1 decisions.
Facing Amherst, Steele defeated his Amherst rival, 3-0, for the third time this year. Also winning for Wesleyan vs. the Lord Jeffs was Nunez (3-0) and Corbin (3-0). Every Cardinal won at least one game in their match with DeLalio and Berman both falling in five games.
Taking on Stanford to end match play, Steele again posted a 3-0 win to end the year with a team-best 17-7 overall record. He was named first-team all-NESCAC for the second year in a row after a vote of the conference coaches. With his 3-0 victory, Ethan Moritz, the turn-around player of the year for the Cardinals, matched Steele for total wins and is one of just two players to see action in all 26 matches as he fashioned a 17-9 mark this season. A year ago, Moritz posted an 8-18 record, mostly at #7. DeLalio is the only other Cardinal to play every match and posted a 15-11 record. He fell 3-1 in his final match. Other Wesleyan victories came from Berman, Nunez, Wherry and Corbin, all in sweeps, while Nassikas needed five game to subdue his Stanford opponent after trailing 2-1.
The final action for the team came up Fri.-Sun., March 2-4 when Steele took part in the CSA National Individual Tournament hosted by Amherst. Playing in the Molloy Division, Steele went 3-2 and reached the second-level consolation semifinals, falling to Navy's #2 Hunter Abrams, 3-2, in his final match. He opened with a one-sided 3-0 victory over Bates #1 Robert Burns, against who he had lost 3-2 to begin the season. He generated two match points against Princeton #6 Clay Blackiston before yielding a 3-2 decision. Steele then rolled past Middlebury's #2 Jay Dolan, 3-0, and eked out a 3-2 win over Yale's #6 Robert Berner before being eliminated by Abrams. Steele will be awaiting his final individual ranking of the season after finishing 62nd last year, 12th among NESCAC players with the first eight all Trinity athletes. Berner was #46 at the end of last year and Blackiston was #50.