Last year, the women’s fencing team cruised through the Ivy League undefeated. After this past weekend’s matches, the Bulldogs are fighting to salvage a shot at postseason play.
The men’s (3-3, 0-2 Ivy) and women’s (3-3, 1-2) fencing teams competed Feb. 8 against Columbia and Brown in New York City. The men fell to Columbia (8-2, 3-1) 22-5 and beat Brown (5-10, 3-3) 20-7. The women lost to Columbia (10-1, 3-0) 8-19 and beat Brown (5-12, 2-7) 20-7. The women’s squad also fell to Northwestern 8-19 in a non-conference meet.
Columbia’s women’s team now leads the Ivy League.
“This weekend was disappointing in the sense that last year we easily beat both Columbia and Brown,” Erica Korb ’05 said. “Now, unless something drastic happens, Columbia will be the undefeated Ivy Champs.”
Columbia destroyed the Bulldogs in sabre competition, defeating Yale 1-8. Sabre captain Sophie Jones ’03, who suffered an injury to her hand in warm-ups, and Carly Guss ’06 lost all their bouts; Meredith Hughes ’05 mustered Yale’s only point in the weapon. Jones said part of Columbia’s success was its strong freshman class.
“We knew that Columbia would be tough going in,” Jones said. “They recruited a very strong freshman class, especially in sabre, which will make them very difficult for anyone in the Ivy League to beat.”
Foil did not see much success either. Sarah McDonough ’03 fenced in place of Isadora Bwotnick ’06, who suffered a knee injury in her first bout of the Penn competition Feb. 1. Bwotnick’s status remains uncertain; the Bulldogs are still waiting to see if she will compete again. Justine Aw ’06 and Katie Schemmer ’05 also foiled for Yale.
In epee competition, Korb performed well against the Lions, going 3-0 in her bouts. Katie Burghardt ’05 and Candice Frost ’03 also fenced epee for Yale.
Epee captain Sarah Senk ’03 did not compete in any of Saturday’s matches; she was sick with the flu. Korb, who had one of the best collective performances in the Saturday meets, finished with an 8-1 record against the three schools.
“Erica [Korb] fenced remarkably well this weekend,” Jones said. “She beat a girl from Brown that she has never beaten before, and that was a major accomplishment for her.”
Despite their significant loss to Columbia, the Bulldogs crushed Brown 20-7. A first year program, Brown showed its youth. The match will not go toward the Bulldogs’ Ivy League record because of Brown’s first-year varsity status.
In addition to Brown’s overall inexperience, Sophie Kline, Browns’ top fencer, was unable to compete due to injury, further widening the talent gap.
In their final match of the day, the Bulldogs only managed to muster an 8-19 record against Northwestern. Despite the final score, Korb said Yale performed well considering the numerous Eli fencers not competing in their usual weapons.
“We did not embarrass ourselves with the way we performed,” Korb said. “We made them work really hard to get the win.”
On the men’s side, teammates said their performance was less than stellar. In their meet against Columbia, the Bulldogs failed to win a single point, falling 9-0.
Only two fencers picked up any points for Yale in the match. Men’s captain Byron Igoe ’03 went 2-1 in sabre and Cory Werk ’03 foiled 3-0. Werk won all his bouts over the weekend, finishing 6-0.
Columbia, the defending Ivy League champion, was Yale’s toughest competition in the Ancient Eight.
“Columbia is an excellent team,” Werk said. “I never expected us, however, to lose by that great of a margin. I am confident that we could have made the gap a lot smaller if we had been on our game.”
In their meeting with Brown, the Bulldogs easily defeated the rookie team in each weapon. James Rohrbach ’04, Michael Alexander ’05 and Will Tauxe ’05 combined for a 5-4 record. The foil team bounced back from its 3-6 record against Columbia to win all nine bouts. Nathan Elchert ’05 and Chie-Yu Lin ’06 foiled alongside Werk in both matches. The Bulldogs sabred 6-3 as well.
But like the women’s team, the men’s team’s victory did not count toward its Ivy League record.
Yale will continue its Ivy League competition against Harvard and Princeton in New Haven Feb. 22. Despite the disappointing losses this weekend, both the men and women squads want to finish conference play with strong victories.