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The men’s and women’s fencing teams went into Saturday’s Ivy League opener against the University of Pennsylvania anticipating a strong start to their Ivy League season. Instead, both squads ended the weekend with disappointing losses.

Penn’s women crushed the Bulldogs 19-8, while the men lost 17-10. Both teams are now 0-1 in the Ivies, while Penn’s women advance to 2-1 and the men to 3-0.

In the women’s match, trouble began when starting foil Isadora Bwotnick ’06 tore her meniscus during her first bout. Women’s team captain Sarah Senk ’03 said that Bwotnick’s injury affected the match’s outcome drastically.

“Isadora let out this blood-curdling scream,” Senk said. “It shook us all up from that point on.”

As a result of Bwotnick’s injury, Senk was forced to switch from her usual weapon, epee, and fence in the foil competition in place of Bwotnick. Senk ended up losing all of her bouts, while the foils Justine Aw ’06 and Erica Korb ’05 combined for only two wins. Even though the Bulldogs finished 2-7 in foil, Senk said she felt the result did not reflect the effort.

“We had so many 4-5 bouts that could have gone either way,” Senk said. “On another day, it could easily have been Penn on the losing side instead of us.”

The epee competition was also affected by Senk’s shift to foil. Katie Burghardt ’05, Candice Frost ’04, and walk-on Carly Guss ’06 all competed for Yale. None of them were able to salvage a win for the Bulldogs, despite many close bouts.

Sophie Jones ’03 and her sabre squad were the only victorious weapon for the Bulldogs, garnering a 6-3 win.

Although the women lost, Senk said they are not yet out of contention for an Ivy League title. After going undefeated in the Ivies last season, the Bulldogs are not willing to give up their goal just yet.

“If we can get our heads back on straight and head into each upcoming match with intensity, we should still have an excellent shot to repeat our Ivy title,” Senk said.

The Bulldogs faced similar disappointments on the men’s side. Foil Cory Werk ’06 said the outcome did not reflect the team’s preparation for the match.

“It was a big disappointment because we were really motivated going into the match,” Werk said. “We really expected to win because we knew we were the better team.”

Despite their confidence going in, the Bulldogs only won sabre, defeating the Quakers 5-4. In foil, Yale went 3-6 against Penn, with Werk losing two bouts for the first time ever in a college meet. Daniel Senft ’03 and Nathan Elchert ’05 also competed in foil for the Bulldogs, combining for two wins.

In epee Yale fell 2-7 to Penn. Epee captain James Rohrbach ’05 won two bouts for the Bulldogs in his weapon, while teammates Michael Alexander ’05 and Will Tauxe ’05 were unable to earn a point for Yale.

“Penn was a good team with a lot of talent,” Rohrbach said. “However, we definitely could have beaten them if we had had the determination to do so.”

Last year the Bulldogs defeated the Quakers 17-10 to start off the season with a win. Now they will have to recover from a season-opening loss if they hope to have a shot at an Ivy title.

Obstacles in Yale’s way include Princeton — the returning champion — Harvard, and now Penn.

“There is a good chance that all of the other schools will end up with a loss as well,” Rohrbach said. “If this happens and we win out the rest of the season, we will still have a shot at the title.”

Both the men and women continue their Ivy campaign this weekend in New York, where they will take on Columbia and Brown.
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