While a number of Yale sports teams suffered lackluster weekends, both the men’s and women’s fencing teams proved exceptions to this rule at the Brandeis Invitational on Sunday after winning their home opener against the New York University Violets.
The men’s team (3-2) kicked off its home season with a close win over NYU on Thursday, defeating the Violets by one bout. The women (4-1) stormed past their opponents, garnering a convincing 21-6 victory. At Brandeis three days later, the men posted a record of 2-2 while the women had three wins and a loss.
Since the two teams were tied 12-12 with only three bouts remaining, the men’s win over NYU proved to be one of the most thrilling of the young season; adding to the drama was the fact that the Elis have not beaten NYU since 2003. John Gurrieri ’10 and Andrew Holbrook ’10, two rookies who won all of their bouts, rallied to defeat their Violet opponents in the foil, assuring the Bulldogs a close win. Although the sabre squad posted only one win in its nine bouts against their opponents’ strongest squad, the epee squad, led by Michael Pearce ’09, won all but two bouts.
Ethan Wais ’07 said the victory against the Violets will provide positive momentum through the rest of the season, as the first meet typically is one of the toughest. The Elis’ long-awaited victory against the solid program, he said, also suggests how far the Yale squad has come this season.
“It’s indicative of the rest of our season,” he said. “The fact that we beat them shows that we’ve attained a level of performance that we didn’t necessarily have before.”
The men’s finish at Brandeis was not quite as spectacular, marked by two wins and two defeats. The team beat Boston College 16-11 and MIT 15-12, but they lost to the host 16-11 and St. John’s 19-8. In their matches against BC, the foil and epee squads allowed only four total losses. In the sabre event, the squad mounted a disappointing campaign against the Eagles, 2-7, and barely squeezed by MIT, 5-4.
The men were unable to pull off additional victories over Brandeis and St. John’s as the epee and sabre squads fell to both teams. The Elis managed to defeat the host in the foil, but the Red Storm proved to be one of its toughest opponents, beating all of Yale’s squads.
On the women’s team, freshmen contributed significantly to the win against the Violets and the three wins at Brandeis. Against NYU, Katie Arden ’10, Lidia Gocheva ’10 and Rebecca Moss ’10 won all of their three bouts in the sabre, foil and epee, respectively. The sabre squad trounced the Violets, winning eight of the nine bouts. The foil squad followed suit, winning seven bouts, and the epee squad further contributed to the Elis’ victory by garnering six wins.
Captain Alisa Mendelsohn ’07 said the freshmen are an integral part of the already diverse group.
“The freshmen contribute a lot to the team because there are several strong freshmen on each squad, so it adds depth to the team,” she said. “As they get more experience, the whole team will get stronger.”
The women could not muster a perfect weekend, tasting bitter defeat against St. John’s in a 16-11 final. The lone victory of 5-4 for the Elis was in the sabre. While the Red Storm edged out the Yale foil squad 5-4, St. John’s seven epee wins ensured the Bulldogs’ downfall.
Mendelsohn said having a bye instead of competing in the first round might have contributed to the team’s sole loss in the season so far.
“We started fencing about one round after everyone else,” she said. “I think that’s why we might have been a bit cold.”
The women’s team rallied despite its initial defeat to gain three wins in total against Brandeis (21-6), BC (22-5) and MIT (18-9). The foil squad was nearly flawless in its matches against all three schools, losing only one bout against MIT.
Erin Frey ’08 said the team’s strong beginning may be suggestive of a successful season for the Elis.
“We have a lot of hard schools to fence next semester,” she said. “The fact that we did well [this semester] shows that we can do well this year.”