The women’s fencing team had top-eight finishes in two weapons Nov. 22 and 23 at the 31st annual M. Garret Penn State Open. Today the Elis will face New York University in their last pre-season competition.

Captain Erica Korb ’05 finished fifth out of 45 women in epee, and Alisa Mendelsohn ’07 finished seventh out of 44 in foil. Carly Guss ’06 was Yale’s top fencer in saber, finishing 16th out of 38.

The Bulldogs’ two top-eight finishes are significant in fencing because athletes compete in several rounds of bouts. The fence-off between the final eight is the last round before finals. At this level, each fencer has competed in 11 bouts — the preliminary nine are five-touch, and the final two are 15-touch. Points in fencing are received for every touch.

The Penn State Open is different from regular season competition because scoring is done individually, rather than by team. Most fencing tournaments are scored by individual bouts, which are then added at the end for a composite team score.

“Penn State was more of an individual tournament than a team event, so while many schools were represented, I don’t think the competition was adequate ground to judge the other teams for the season,” Mendelsohn said.

Mendelsohn’s strong foil showing was encouraging for the Elis because the youthful squad is short on experience. There are no seniors on the team, and head coach Henry Harutunian and Korb are depending on six walk-ons and strong recruits like Mendelsohn to help rebuild the team.

“In general we are coming up against teams with more experience than we have,” Korb said. “We’ve been working incredibly hard, and good teams will be surprised.”

At Penn State, the Bulldog fencers competed against individuals from strong teams like Notre Dame, the defending NCAA Champions.

Tonight, the Bulldogs will offer proof of their hard work against host NYU, who finished 12th last year at the NCAA Fencing Championships.

According to Korb, foil is the strongest squad this year. She also said she has confidence in epee fencer Katie Burghardt ’05, whose hard work has led to great improvement over last year.

Traditionally, the Elis have been able to beat NYU, and despite the inexperience of the Yale squads, they remain confident, though Burghardt concedes that the score may be closer than in past years.

“I feel pretty confident about it,” Burghardt said. “Everyone’s been looking solid at practice, and it will be good to get the walk-ons out there, who are all looking pretty good.”