The men’s fencing team will open its intercollegiate season with a team match against New York University Tuesday at home.

The competition is divided into foil, saber and epee weapon classes with three fencers in each division. Each team member fences all three opponents in his weapon in a first-to-five points battle. Fencers score points by stabbing or slashing an opponent’s target area with their swords — in saber and foil, this is the upper body, while in epee, the entire body is game. The team with the most wins out of the 27 resulting matches wins.

Team member Chris Sinay ’06, who placed 49th in individual competition at the Nov. 15 Penn State Open, said NYU should pose a challenge tomorrow.

“If your school is in a big city, then you have access to awesome fencers,” Sinay said. “There are better fencing clubs in the big cities.”

Captain James Rohrbach ’05 said the match against NYU is crucial as it will set the tone for the season.

“It is important for us to see how we do against NYU,” Rohrbach said. “Now, everything means something.”

The Bulldogs have already had a chance to see where they stand with their appearance at the Penn State Open. Although the schools Yale faced were not in the Elis’ conference, the tournament offered good experience. Rohrbach said most of the fencers that will start Tuesday competed at the Open.

“The event was a really good tune up for us,” Rohrbach said. “It showed us how the guys we are really counting on are doing.”

The Bulldogs will be relying on Cory Werk ’06, among others. Hailing from Europaschule Bornheim High School in Germany, Werk placed second last year at the Nationals in foil and led the Elis to a 13th place overall finish out of 32. More recently, Werk placed third at the Penn State Open.

Rohrbach said one of the areas marked for improvement this season is the team atmosphere.

“More important than even just winning is fencing at the level that we are capable of,” he said. “Within the squad, we need to get within the mindset of being in a higher level of competition. We need to make it so that at every day at practice we’re fencing like we’re at a competition.”

To increase energy and intensity at practice, the Bulldogs have tried to simulate bouts against upcoming opponents. In preparation for their match Tuesday the Elis have been practicing countering the point-in-line maneuver in saber, a favorite of NYU swordsmen, Sinay said.

Another area of focus for the Bulldogs is physical conditioning. Before the official start of the season on Oct. 15, Rohrbach ran captain’s practices geared towards getting the team in shape.

“We tried to get people in shape so when we get into the fencing room we have a good conditioning base,” Rohrbach said.

The Bulldogs are hopeful of a successful season. The league hierarchy has been jostled with the return of some collegiate fencers from Olympic campaigns.

“Who knows what could happen,” Sinay said.

Rohrbach, meanwhile, is more concerned with where the team stands in terms of technical skill and conditioning.

“I won’t be happy if we win and don’t look good,” he said.