The Yale men’s fencing team began the week coming off two recent victories, but a devastating injury and tough competition have ended the Elis’ winning ways.
After defeating Brandeis 17-10 Dec. 21 and Vassar 17-10 three days later, the Bulldogs (4-6) have dropped five straight.
“We were in a tough position, not an easy one,” Yale head coach Henry Harutunian said.
After a strong showing over Vassar this past Saturday, Yale suffered a major setback during its second contest of the afternoon. In his first bout against Rutgers, foil fencer Michael Aboodi ’07 tore his ACL. Without one of the team’s key anchors, the Bulldogs drifted, falling to the Scarlet Knights 11-16.
Neither did the Elis manage to regain their footing the following afternoon at the NYU Invitational. Facing the country’s best — No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 4 St John’s, No. 2 Ohio State, and Stanford — Yale failed to come away with a single win.
In addition, the Bulldogs received a further piece of bad news — Aboodi’s injury will keep him out of competition for the rest of the season.
“We were counting on [Aboodi] to be a key starter in Ivy League season,” captain James Rohrbach ’05 said. “Now the entire team is going to have to step it up to fill the gap left by his injury.”
During a team fencing match, the fencers in each weapon fence nine bouts, for a total of 27. The winner is the team that wins at least 14 bouts.
At Brandeis, Aboodi, foil fencer Cory Werk ’06 and epee fencer John Beski ’07 all went undefeated. The epee squad, with Beski at its head, led the way with a 7-2 victory, while the foil squad went 6-3 and the sabre squad went 5-4.
Against Vassar, foil fencer Chie-Yu Lin ’05 put on an outstanding performance, winning all three of his matches.
“[Lin] had a rough start to the year against NYU and Brandeis,” Rohrbach said. “He just wasn’t fencing as well as we knew he could, so his performance against Vassar was a real breakthrough. It was important for him to break out of his slump.”
Werk and the epee squad continued their earlier dominance against Vassar. Werk blanked his opponent 3-0 and the epee corps down their Brewer competition 7-2.
But Werk and the epee squad were not able to lift the Bulldogs past Rutgers later in the afternoon. The epees still led all squads, but edged their opponents only 5-4 while the foils and sabres both lost 3-6.
“We were pretty disappointed in what happened against Rutgers,” epee fencer Michael Rucker ’07 said.
At the NYU Invitational Sunday, Yale faced some of the nation’s top fencing programs and lost 9-18 to Ohio State, 5-22 to Stanford, 6-21 to Notre Dame, and 8-19 to St. John’s.
Despite the recent spate of losses, however, the Elis are relatively happy with their performance.
“It’s my impression that almost everyone on the team felt good about their fencing at the end of the day,” Rohrbach said. “This meet was all about each guy, trying to fence up to his potential, to get a good sense of just what he’ll be able to accomplish against the Ivy League teams, and in that regard I’d say the meet was a success.”
The NYU meet has prepared the Bulldogs for the Ivy League season, which kicks off this Saturday at Pennsylvania and boosted the Elis’ confidence about its chances of success.
“If the team fences like we did this weekend, I think we have a great chance to have a successful Ivy League season,” Rohrbach said.