The men’s fencing team looked forward to last weekend’s match against UPenn as a chance to build off the momentum of its previous win and establish itself as an early Ivy League contender. But things didn’t go as planned.

The Elis, who notched their first win last week against Vassar 21-6, faltered against a talented and unbeaten Quaker team last Saturday at Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Despite a gutsy performance, the Bulldogs ultimately fell to UPenn 17-10.

“I was pretty disappointed,” captain James Rohrbach ’05 said. “Before the meet I felt like this was a team we could beat, and afterwards I felt so even more strongly. We let a win slip through our fingers.”

Penn used a pair of 6-3 victories in the epee and foil to build an insurmountable lead. Rohrbach did his best to keep the epee squad in contention, winning two bouts. Cory Werk ’06 accounted for all three of Yale’s foil victories by sweeping his opponents. The closest competition was in the sabre, as Harry Flaster ’05 won two of his three matches. But the Quakers were able to pull away and win 5-4, completing the sweep in all three weapons.

Despite having talent and potential, the Bulldogs have struggled with consistency and focus throughout the season. What has plagued the Elis most is letting individual bouts fall just out of their grasp. John Beski ’07 said Yale suffered from similar problems against UPenn.

“As far as epee goes, we did not do particularly well,” Beski said. “And it was not that our fencing was bad, per se, but rather we made a string of stupid mistakes. We had many of the basics down well, but the particulars were way off.”

In their dismantling of Vassar several weeks ago, the Bulldogs showed flashes of what they could be when everything goes right. Rohrbach said while team practices and training are important to the squad’s performance, the burden to improve still falls squarely on individual shoulders.

“Everyone just needs to evaluate his respective performance and figure out what he needs to do to improve,” Rohrbach said.

Things will not get any easier for Yale as it continues through Ivy League play. Next week, the Elis will travel to New York to battle Brown and four-time defending Ivy League champion Columbia.

Beski feels the way to prepare for next week is to not dwell on last weekend’s defeat.

“The only way to put this behind you is to forget about it and give yourself a clean slate for the next time,” Beski said. “Build on whatever you did well, and forget the rest.”

Rohrbach had a different spin on the loss, explaining that the team’s disappointment can be turned into motivation to improve.

“People were pretty upset about losing on Saturday,” Rohrbach said. “We need to use that energy positively. We need to be focused during our meets this coming weekend, and I think our frustration about the Penn meet will provide us with a lot of intensity.”