The title came down to just one touch.
Heading into the final match of the Ivy League Championship tournament, Peter Cohen ’14 and Harvard freshman Mike Raynis were fighting for the title with their teams tied at 13 matches apiece. The two battled to a 4–4 tie in the final minute of the match. But with the seconds ticking down, Raynis flashed forward and landed a hit on Cohen to send the Crimson to its first Ivy League title since 2007.
“I knew there was a lot of pressure going in,” Cohen said. “It was a really special situation. The entire team was counting on me.”
The men’s team (11–5) had been unbeaten along with Harvard’s team through Sunday, until that loss to the Crimson (16–2), 14–13, while the women’s team (5–12) failed to post a win in the tournament.
Coming off close matches with Princeton, 15–12, and Penn, 14–13, the men’s team held a 13–12 lead against Harvard before the last two jousts. But the Bulldogs could not uphold either, ceding the championship to the Crimson.
Despite not coming away with the title, the Elis’ second place 4-1 round-robin result is a marked improvement over last year’s performance, in which the team finished 2–3.
“A miracle happened,” head coach Henry Harutunian said of the result. “Everybody is holding themselves to their very best. It’s tremendous.”
Three members of the male team made the All-Ivy team — Cornelius Saunders ‘14 in epée (13–2), Nathaniel Botwinick ‘11 in foil (11-4) and Nate Benzimra ‘13 in sabre (11–4).
Harutunian said the team was “very healthy” and building on the upward trend on previous years.
But it was a different story for the women’s team, sputtering after momentum-building wins against Sacred Heart, 18–6, and Vassar, 16–11, last weekend.
A 14-13 loss to Harvard Sunday afternoon cemented the team’s disappointing weekend, which also included losses to Columbia, 21–6, Brown, 12–15, Penn, 9–18, and Cornell, 17–10.
“We’ve been having a problem with the women’s team,” Harutunian said. “There are some people doing a beautiful job and upholding the dignity of the team, but it’s tough going.”
He explained that because three students had recently quit the team and he had only two new recruited fencers this past year, he had been forced to take many walk-ons with little to no experience.
Four members of the women’s sabre team graduated last year, Harutunian said, leaving only one experienced fencer among the walk-on heavy team.
“How can you ask anything from them when they’re fencing people with four to seven years’ background, with good experience in intercollegiate fencing?” he said.
Last year, the women’s team came away from the Ivy round-robin tournament with a 2–4 record.
“We had some good bouts and a couple of good individual records, but we just couldn’t put it all together for a win against this tough competition,” said captain Madeline Oliver ‘13 in a press release. She performed the best of the women’s team with a 12–6 record.
Both the women’s and the men’s teams will be competing at the Junior Olympics in Dallas, Texas from Friday to Monday.