Men’s fencing underperforms against Penn



After losing against some of the best teams in the nation, the Yale men’s fencing team dropped another one against unranked Pennsylvania Saturday.

The Bulldogs (4-7, 0-1 Ivy) gave up a disappointing 20-7 loss to the Quakers (9-4, 1-0) in both teams’ first Ivy contest of the season.

“We had the worst overall team performance of the season by far [against Penn],” captain James Rohrbach ’05 said. “Every single starter significantly underperformed.”

Part of the reason for the Eli loss may have been the fatigue, both physical and emotional, left over from the team’s grueling New York state road trip a week before. The Bulldogs fenced against six teams and came away with only one win, losing to No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 4 St. John’s, No. 2 Ohio State, and Stanford at the NYU Invitational, and also to Rutgers. The only win of the weekend came against Vassar.

“Possibly after the NYU meet we got in a mind-set of losing, which is obviously not a good thing,” epee fencer Will Tauxe ’06 said. “Going from that to the Ivy League was kind of a shock.”

Lack of experience, which has continued to pester the young Bulldogs, was also a major contributor.

“Unfortunately, there were stronger and more experienced fencers [at Penn],” Yale head coach Henry Harutunian said. “They were more consistent.”

Most of all, however, the Bulldogs fenced without the focus and intensity necessary for a victory.

“We didn’t fence up to our potential,” Tauxe said. “I think a lot of people weren’t able to psych themselves up properly.”

The fencing match was divided into three rounds consisting of three bouts each with the epee, saber, and foil weapons, for a total of 27 bouts. The winner of the match is the team that wins at least 14 bouts.

After the first round, the Quakers held a narrow edge, 5-4. But in the two following rounds, Yale only managed to take the three-of-18 bouts.

“Once we started losing, we didn’t have the intensity to turn around,” Rohrbach said.

In the three rounds, only five Yale fencers won bouts — saber fencers Chris Peterson ’07 and Marcus Haymon ’05, epee fencers Rohrbach and John Beski ’07, and foil fencer Cory Werk ’06.

Tauxe fenced despite a cold but did not come away with a ‘W.’ Yale was also without foil fencer Michael Aboodi ’07, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Two years ago, the Elis managed to defeat the Quakers 17-10. Last year, Penn returned the favor, downing Yale 17-10 after Werk lost his first bout in a collegiate meet. Neither of the Elis’ last two meetings against Penn, however, was as disappointing as this one.

“[This year] was much worse,” Rohrbach said.

Yale looks to improve even its Ivy record next Saturday as it faces Columbia and Brown. Columbia (5-2, 2-0 Ivy) currently stands atop the Ivy League standings.

Rohrbach is not worried about a win at this point. For him, the team’s effort is far more important.

“If we lose, I won’t be particularly upset if we fence well,” he said.

After last weekend’s disappointment, the Bulldog captain is prepared to push his troops.

“We’re going to have hard practices,” Rohrbach said.

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