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The story of the women’s fencing team’s first semester was one of domination while the men’s was one of frustration. As Wednesday night suggested, it may be a new year, but the stories are still the same.

After a month-long hiatus from competition, both the women’s and men’s fencing teams returned to match action last night against Brandeis at Payne-Whitney Gymnasium. Although the women’s team picked up where they left off with an impressive 22-5 victory, the men’s squad showed signs of its first semester hiccups with a disappointing 15-12 defeat.

“I think this match is a good indicator of what can happen if we don’t step up and perform at the potential I know we have,” men’s captain James Rohrbach ’05 said. “We need to remember to bring the right attitude into every bout.”

For the second straight match, the men’s fencing team lost to a team it has had no problems with in recent history. The Bulldogs (0-2) also suffered a disappointing loss Nov. 30 to NYU, 15-12. What seemed to be a fluke at the time is now revealing itself as a troubling pattern. The Elis were outmatched in the sabre and foil last night, 5-4 and 7-2, respectively. The lone bright spot was a decisive victory for the epee squad 6-3. John Beski ’07 led the way, winning all three of his matches.

Brandeis (1-1) raced out to a 12-5 bout edge. Just two losses away from defeat, Yale made a late rally and closed the mark to 13-10 at one point, bringing the Yale fans to their feet. But the comeback fell short when the Judges notched the decisive 14th bout win, deflating the home crowd.

Foil Cory Werk ’06 reflected on the frustrating loss.

“Coming into the match, I expected us to leave with a clear win,” Werk said. “This doesn’t really reflect our potential and that makes it hurt more.”

After the match, Rohrbach had no problem identifying places for improvement.

“We need to work on our intensity, focus and practice time,” Rohrbach said. “We all should be training more.”

On the women’s side, despite the month-long break, neither the Bulldogs nor their swords showed any signs of rust. The Elis (3-0) smothered Brandeis (0-2) 22-5. Yale swept the epee competition 9-0, and nearly earned the shutout in the sabre also, winning 8-1. Captain Erica Korb ’05 set the tone by winning all three of her matches in the epee competition. Led by Alisa Mendelsohn ’07, who won all her bouts, the Bulldogs edged out a 5-4 decision in the foil competition.

Korb explained how the Bulldogs were able to stay sharp throughout the break.

“We all came back from winter break once the dorms reopened,” Korb said. “We had time for intense physical training and a few practice that got us back in shape and ready for competition this week.”

More impressive than its 3-0 start has been the way in which the women’s team has simply overwhelmed the competition. In the three matches so far this winter, Yale has won a staggering 70 percent of all its bouts.

While Korb expected the Elis to beat Brandeis, she was surprised by their dismantling of the Judges.

“Ths is one of our best matches in the past few years,” Korb said. “I mean, you can’t get much better than that. Also we lost to Brandeis last year, even though I didn’t think we should, so it was nice to get revenge.”

With the men’s loss and women’s victory, as of now it seems the teams are moving in opposite directions. The men hope to rebound and the women look to continue their success when they host Rutgers and Vassar in a tri-meet this Saturday at Yale. Both teams will also compete in the NYU Invitational on Sunday.
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