FENCING | Bulldogs fall in close matchup

The men’s epee and sabre squads both recorded a final score of 5–4, but the foil squad’s 3–6 performance was not enough to bring Yale a win.
The men’s epee and sabre squads both recorded a final score of 5–4, but the foil squad’s 3–6 performance was not enough to bring Yale a win. Photo by Jennifer Cheung.

The elevators at Payne Whitney opened to a rowdy seventh floor this Saturday as Yalies came out to support the men’s and women’s fencing teams in their first spring meet against the Sacred Heart Pioneers.

While the matchup proved to be a close one, both teams fell to their opponents in heartbreaking 13-14 outcomes.

“I think we were caught a little off guard,” epeeist Peter Cohen ’14 said. “It’s not that we underestimated them, but that we have to come with our all every time we fence them. They had the edge on us at the beginning and we had to work back a little bit.”

Men’s team captain Cornelius Saunders ’14 said the early arrival of the Pioneers — the team showed up three hours earlier than expected — may have contributed to the Bulldogs’ unpreparedness early in the day.

The men’s epee and sabre squads both recorded a final score of 5–4, but the foil squad’s 3-6 performance was not enough to bring the team to a win. Two of the final bouts ended in 5–4 losses.

“It was close,” Saunders said. “What we need to learn moving forward is how to win those close bouts.”

Foilist Brian Wang ’16 added to his impressive debut performance with a 3–0 record at the meet. Sabreur Hugh O’Cinneide ’15 also went undefeated in his three bouts.

“The biggest thing we can take out of this meet is that no individual performance can win it for us and that we have to act as a team,” Cohen said. “We are made up of individuals and are competing as individuals, but it’s also competing as a team that we have to focus on in order to win.”

The women’s team faced a similar outcome. While the epee squad finished with a 5–4 split, both the foil and sabre squads went 4–5. As with the men, the last two bouts were lost 4–5 each.

“I think we performed much more as a team against Sacred Heart than we did at Brandeis,” team captain Robyn Shaffer ’13 said. “At Brandeis, one squad would be having a great round and other squads wouldn’t be doing as well. This time, every squad put points on the board.”

Despite the final score, teammates expressed similar optimism going forward.

“Since the match was only against one school, it was more about focus than endurance,” foilist Lauren Miller ’15 said. “I think that we focused really well as a team and there were many great comebacks. At the same time, I don’t think we lost any bouts badly because our focus was so good.”

Both Shaffer and Miller went undefeated, posting 3-0 scores. Epeeist Margaret Kandel ’15 came in as a substitute toward the end of the round and won her bout to keep the Bulldogs tied at a crucial time.

The meet was the only home meet of the season for both teams. Since some fencers were unaccustomed to the loud environment, the effects were varied.

“I think playing at home had mixed results because tournaments are never as loud as the one yesterday,” sabreur Madeline Oliver ’13 said. “For some people, it fueled them to dig deeper and fence better. I think everyone got a bit nervous when they saw or heard our fans, though.”

Miller said that as the Bulldogs continue to train for Ivy competition, the next few weeks will serve the purpose of ironing out any kinks in individual performances. Shaffer added the teams will practice in the mindset of a competition and with the same intensity and purpose felt in the last round.

The two teams will travel to New York this Sunday to fence at the NYU Invitational.

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