For a rebuilding team without one of its starting fencers, the Yale men’s fencing team still could have done better.
The Elis (4-11, 0-4 Ivy) ended their season on a sour note in New Jersey Saturday, falling to Princeton (6-3, 2-2) 17-10, Harvard (7-4, 2-2) 17-10, and Duke 17-10.
“We expected realistically to beat one of the Ivy League teams — especially Harvard,” Yale captain James Rohrbach ’05 said. “It’s not like our losses were indicative of major problems on the team. We just did slightly worse than I hoped we would.”
Much of the reason for the loss — and the Elis’ recent string of losses — is due to injury. Once again, the Bulldogs fenced without starting foil fencer Michael Aboodi ’07, who tore his ACL against Rutgers Dec. 24. Since the injury, the Bulldogs have dropped seven of their last eight matches.
“The difference between a 17-10 loss and a 14-13 victory is winning four bouts,” said Rohrbach. “That’s the difference between having Mike Aboodi back and maybe winning one or two more bouts.”
Yale head coach Henry Harutunian was pleased with the performance, considering the Elis’ depleted strength.
“We lost, but our guys had guts,” Harutunian said.
The Elis fenced against Princeton first in the day. The standout epee squad managed a 5-4 victory over its opponents, but a 6-3 loss in foil and a 7-2 loss in sabre gave the Tigers the overall edge. All-American foil fencer Cory Werk ’06 was the only team member to go undefeated against Princeton.
The Bulldogs’ second match of the day was against Duke, who was a recent addition to the day’s program. Yale’s last meet of the regular season has traditionally been a three-way contest between Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
“We didn’t find out that we were going to fence Duke until the Thursday before the match,” Rohrbach said. “There was a mix-up with the Athletic Department.”
The Elis took the opportunity of a match against Duke to give their starting fencers a rest before facing Harvard later in the day. Yale made many substitutions, but the epee, foil, sabre all fell, 5-4, 6-3, and 7-2, respectively.
The brief respite, however, did not seem to be long enough. Against Harvard, all the squads lost once again. The epee fencers narrowly fell 5-4, the sabrists finished 7-2, and the foil fencers ended up capitulating 6-3.
A few individual performances, however, gave the Bulldogs hope for success in the postseason and beyond.
After Werk gave up a match against Harvard’s Phillip Sherril, epeeist Ethan Wais ’07 struck vengeance and handed Sherril his only loss of the match. Wais’s improvement is particularly notable considering he is the replacement starter for Aboodi.
“I was pleased that I could beat a fencer from Harvard,” Wais said. “This wasn’t something I could do at the beginning of the year, and I’m glad I improved.”
Sabre fencer Chris Peterson ’07 also stood out, going a combined 4-2 in breakout performances against Harvard and Princeton.
Marcus Haymon ’05 has also been a bright spot for the Elis all season, fencing well despite missing out on the entire fall season because he was taking a term abroad.
Next, the Bulldogs look forward to the Mar. 6 Intercollegiate Fencing Association tournament as a warm-up to the regional NCAA qualifiers Mar. 13.