By Winston Hsiao
A moral victory is never as good as a mark in the win column. But after falling short of expectations all season, the men’s fencing team gladly took one this past weekend.
Despite a gutsy effort, Yale (2-6, 0-4 Ivy) ultimately succumbed to Harvard (4-1, 3-1), 19-8 and Princeton (5-4, 2-2), 16-11 at the H-Y-P meet in Cambridge, Mass. last Saturday. The Bulldogs finished the Ivy League season winless, but closed the campaign with a 14-13 edging of Rutgers Sunday in New Haven.
Regardless of the final outcome against the Crimson and the Tigers, captain James Rohrbach ’05 felt the team took valuable lessons away from the meets.
“I was more proud of the team this past weekend than I have been all season,” Rohrbach said. “Harvard and Princeton are strong teams, and we fought hard against them. I said before this meet that we need to show a lot of heart at H-Y-Ps, a determination to win. We did that. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t come away with a win, but I was happy with the focus and energy that the team brought to the meets.”
The determined Bulldogs kept both matches close throughout the day. Harvard used a pair of 7-2 decisions in the sabre and the foil to build a lofty lead.
The Elis kept the score respectable with a 5-4 loss in the epee. Rohrbach led the epee with two victories. The strong effort was highlighted by an inspired win in sabre by Matt Chaiken ’08 over Harvard’s best fencer toward the end of the match.
Although Princeton swept Yale in every weapon, each battle was competitive. Princeton edged out Yale 5-4 in two weapons, the epee and sabre. Rohrbach and Will Tauxe ’05 paced the epee unit with two wins apiece. Chris Peterson ’07 shined, winning all three of his matches in the sabre. Cory Werk ’06 notched two wins for the foil squad, but they were not enough: Yale lost 6-3. John Beski ’07 explains that even though the decision did not go their way, the members of the epee squad can walk away from H-Y-Ps proud.
“As far as epee goes, I was quite happy with the performance of the team,” Beski said. “Even though our records were not the best, everyone was fencing well and we were on. Unfortunately that was the case for [Harvard and Princeton] as well.”
The Crimson would squeak out a 14-13 decision over the Tigers to clinch a share of the Ivy League title with powerhouse Columbia. It was Harvard’s first since 1977. It is also the fifth straight season in which the Lions earned at least a tie for the Ivy crown.
The Bulldogs ended their frustrating season with a 14-13 victory over Rutgers at home on Sunday. Beski’s three wins secured a 5-4 victory in the epee. Despite Peterson’s two victories, Yale could not expand the lead, as the Bulldogs faltered in the sabre 6-3. It would take a Werk sweep in the foil to win the weapon 6-3 and to clinch the match.
Rohrbach explained while the finale was strong, the season overall has left much to be desired.
“It did [fall short of expectations],” Rohrbach said. “But I think we ended on a strong note at H-Y-Ps and against Rutgers. If we’d fenced against Brandeis and NYU like we did against Rutgers, for example, there’s no question we would have come away with wins.”
Yale travels to Rhode Island Feb. 26 for the Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championships. The IFAs will be the last team competition of the season, before the individual tournaments — the NCAA Regionals and NCAA Championships — begin in March.
By Winston Hsiao