Trinity (CT) strikes me as a team that is stuck perpetually in the 15-20 range of the national rankings. They don’t have the clout or history to out-recruit their NESCAC rivals, but they can always pull enough good players from the talented New England section to stay competitive. They also seem to be more limited by the NESCAC “no play ’till March” rule than their higher-ranked cohorts because fewer teams are eager to schedule a team like Trinity that could kill their ranking (just ask Redlands). All of that aside, they look to have finally put together consecutive strong recruiting classes that, with hard work and good development, might allow them to break into the NESCAC top 4 a couple years from now. Unfortunately, they were hit hard by graduation last year, losing their #2 and 3 singles players along with another doubles player, so before things get better for the Bantams, they might get worse.
Where They’ll Win
On paper, it looks like Trinity is deeper than most teams in the 15-20 range. They had the depth to hang with and beat Redlands at the bottom end of the lineup. They also destroyed Bates, and hung with their higher ranked NESCAC competitors. They don’t have the depth to beat them, but they can beat anyone outside the top 10 with their depth. With regards to their match against Tufts, I see that as a whole-team choke. They probably lost the doubles on a wave of emotion, but they won five of the first sets in singles, and should have been on their way to an easy victory. But they somehow ended up losing in three at #3, 4, and 5, and the third set scores indicate to me that they just fell apart. Still, I would say that most of the time, they would beat Tufts with their depth, even with a doubles loss.
Where They’ll Lose
The Bantams should still be relatively strong at the #1 singles spot with McCook returning from last year, but they lost their #2 and 3 singles players, and I think those are the positions that Trinity will be weak in this year. They did alright, but not great, at the #4 spot last year, which doesn’t bode well if Marfatia has to move up to #2. Also, even though they have a strong recruiting class, most freshmen aren’t ready to step in and play #2 singles in the NESCAC. I see this team as having one standout, and six or seven guys who would make excellent #4 singles players. If I’m right, that would make them solid at 4 and strong at 5 and 6, but weak at 2 and 3.
Trinity starts its season with the annual NESCAC March migration to So Cal. Their first two matches against Whitman and Kalamazoo are definite trap matches, and they absolutely have to avoid a loss if they want any chance at making Pool C. If Cal Lu gets some good results this year, a win over them could help their chances, but any season that ends with the Bantams in the NCAA tournament has to start with a win over Bowdoin. Trinity is too far away from Williams, Amherst, and Middlebury to pull off an upset over either of them, even on their best day, but Bowdoin might be within reach. There simply isn’t enough room in Pool C for four NESCAC teams, so if Trinity wants in, they will have to take Bowdoin’s spot away from them.
I just don’t think the Bantams are good enough to beat the Polar Bears this year. If they can do a good job developing the talent from these next two recruiting classes, they will have a chance, but I think they’re closer to Bates and Tufts than they are to Bowdoin. I see Trinity getting comfortable wins over Whitman, Kalamazoo, and either Bates or Tufts to maintain their ranking, but at the end of the season, I think they will be a few spots lower than they are right now.