The men’s and women’s fencing teams squared off against New York University in their first bout of the season last night at Payne Whitney Gymnasium.
After the fencing room, located on the seventh floor of the gym, quieted from the clanging weapons and the booming cheers, both teams took stock of the night. The women’s team won comfortably, 17-10, defeating the Violets 7-2 in sabre and 5-4 in both foil and epee. The men, on the other hand, lost 15-12, going 3-6 in sabre and foil and 6-3 in epee.
“The kids tried their best,” head coach Henry Harutunian said. “It was up and down for us.”
Despite the men’s team’s loss, Harutunian said the squad is stronger this year than it has been of late and is confident in its ability to come back later in the season.
“Our kids will put themselves together with dignity,” he said. “We will put everything together the proper way.”
Women’s captain Erica Korb ’05 said she was pleased with the performance of her team, especially considering one of the team’s top fencers was out with an injury.
“We did much better than last year,” she said. “We’re happy about getting our revenge.”
Last year, the Bulldogs lost to the Violets.
Fencing is a very personal sport, Korb added, so fencers develop relationships with their opponents as they face them over the course of their careers. In a sport where it is considered dishonorable to strike an opponent in the back or when she has dropped her weapon, rivalries form as a matter of course, she said.
The Elis benefited from the return of Sada Jacobson ’06, who earned a bronze medal in sabre at the Athens Olympics. She won all three of her bouts last night.
The Bulldogs are also bolstered by a strong group of freshmen. One of the newcomers, Diana Schawlowski ’08, led the women at the Penn State Open Nov. 15 with a seventh-place finish in foil. Korb also noted the performance of Isadora Botwinick ’06, who went 2-1 in epee in her college fencing debut.
The men’s team would have benefitted from inspired fencing, captain James Rohrbach ’05 said. In sabre and foil, he said he felt the team dropped far more bouts than they should have.
“I can count seven people who should have won one more bout,” Rohrbach said. “If we had won half of those bouts, then we’d have won the match. To have seven out of nine starters fail — that’s a really bad day.”
But Rohrbach was quick to point out that while the Bulldogs did not start their season as they would have liked, they were not lacking in effort.
“I was pleased with our passion, our intensity and focus,” Rohrbach said.
Another bright spot for the men was their performance in epee. Although they started off 0-3 in their first round against the Violets, the Elis rallied to win the next six bouts.