The Quakers came into this past weekend on a 12-match win streak, and after Saturday, the Yale women’s fencing team understood why.
Yale (5-3, 1-1 Ivy) fell to Pennsylvania (13-0, 1-0) with a team score of 18-9, despite strong performances from the foil squad, which won 5-4. The epee fencers narrowly lost 4-5, while the saberists were crushed 9-0.
In a fencing match, the winning team is the one that ends up winning the most of 27 bouts, nine for each weapon, with each squad’s top three fencers competing in three bouts each.
The loss can be attributed to a lack of experience on the Bulldog side. The Quakers, one of the Ivy League’s strongest fencing teams, capitalized on their experience and energy to down the Bulldogs.
“Penn has a solid team with a lot of experienced fencers,” captain Erica Korb ’05 said. “It took us the first round or two to match Penn’s energy.”
The Quakers’ enthusiasm may have taken the Elis by surprise, but it also reminded the Bulldogs of how important it will be for them to match the intensity levels of other Ivy League teams.
Korb turned in the best performance of the day, winning all her epee bouts. Although she was nervous going into the match because she had some family members in the stands, Korb performed solidly, making few mistakes.
The foil squad pulled through with Yale’s only victory, aided by the consistently strong Alisa Mendelsohn ’07. Mendelsohn lost her first bout to Penn’s No. 2 fencer but regained her focus for the second and third bouts, finishing 2-1.
But despite being the strength of the Yale squad, the foil fencers realize that they still have plenty of room for improvement.
“Although the foil squad fenced fairly well, I think that had we been thinking more, we could have won every bout,” Mendelsohn said.
The Quakers upended the Elis 9-0 in saber, which is also Yale’s youngest and least experienced team. Saber has few experienced fencers and only recently acquired Justine Aw ’06, who was previously a foil fencer.
Carly Guss ’06, one of the few sophomore saberists, while not pulling any wins against Penn, was able to use her experience to improve on her performance this weekend.
“I think that I improved on several things that I wasn’t doing so well against the better schools over the weekend,” Guss said.
The weekend of Jan. 24 and 25, the Elis competed against Vassar and Rutgers, as well as against some of the nation’s top teams at the NYU Invitational.
While they have not been able to add many marks to their ‘W’ column since a Jan. 25 victory over Stanford at the NYU Invitational, the Bulldogs are performing solidly for such a young team. By competing against stronger teams, such as the undefeated Quakers, the Elis are able to continually find ways to improve.
“I think we’ve seen a lot of improvement in the last couple weeks. This may not show in our record, since we’ve been fencing the very top schools in the nation, but it’s very clear if you watch individuals on the team,” Korb said. “We knew that this would be a building year, so I don’t mind losing to top schools like Penn if we get something out of it.”
The Bulldogs will get a chance to see the fruits of their labors this weekend when they take on Columbia at Payne Whitney Gymnasium.