Although the men’s and women’s fencing teams’ seasons have been noticeably different, their results this weekend were nearly identical.
Both teams dropped tough matches at Columbia before dismantling Div. III Hunter College to earn the Saturday split in New York.
The women’s team (6-1, 2-1 Ivy) saw their undefeated streak come to an end, falling to the Lions (7-2, 2-1), 16-11. But just hours later, the Bulldogs were able to pick themselves up off the ground and overwhelm the Hawks, 24-3.
“I think that even though we lost, since it was so close and Columbia is a good team, we can still be confident in the strength of our team and go into next weekend aiming to win,” captain Erica Korb ’05 said.
Diana Schawlowski ’08 swept her three opponents to lead the foil squad to the 5-4 victory. The Lions countered with a 5-4 decision in the sabre competition. Despite the loss, Sada Jacobson ’06 did her part by winning all three of her matches, including one against her sister Emily, a freshman at Columbia. The Lions were able to pull away with a convincing 7-2 win in the epee, with Isadora Botwinick ’06 and Katherine Burghardt ’05 picking up Yale’s only victories.
Later that day, the Bulldogs responded by dominating an inexperienced Hunter team. Yale’s sabre and foil squads both won 9-0. While the win may have eased the pains of the earlier loss, the focus still remained on the Columbia match and its implications on the rest of the season.
“I’m disappointed with the loss, especially because by the end of the meet I’d realized that we could have won,” Korb said. “I’m particularly frustrated with myself, since I’ve at some point beaten all the girls on their team but just had one of those bad days and lost all three of my bouts, when three bouts were all we needed to win.”
After their clutch performance against defending Ivy League champ Penn last weekend, the Elis hoped to ride the wave of momentum through their match against Columbia. But the Bulldogs squandered an opportunity to establish themselves as Ivy League favorites, making next weekend’s anticipated showdown against Harvard and Princeton even more important.
“I don’t think this loss against Columbia will throw us off,” Alisa Mendelsohn ’07 said. “We knew they were a very good team. We just need to approach H-Y-P from a fresh perspective. All we can do is fence to the best of our ability.”
On the men’s side, the Bulldogs (2-4, 0-2) were overmatched by the four-time defending Ivy champ Lions (5-4, 2-1), 20-7. John Beski ’07 won all three of his bouts, leading the epee squad to a 6-3 victory. Unfortunately for the Elis, they would only win one more match in the other two competitions combined. Columbia’s epee and foil dominated, winning 9-0 and 8-1, respectively. Cory Werk ’06 picked up the foil squad’s only victory.
As captain James Rohrbach ’05 explained, while it is never good to lose in lopsided fashion, the Bulldogs were simply outperformed by a deep and talented team.
“On the one hand, I wish we’d done better against Columbia,” Rohrbach said. “On the other hand, they’re a very good team. They are strong across the board, and particularly in foil and saber. I thought we could’ve won a few more bouts, but our team can’t feel too bad about this loss.”
Yale’s match with Hunter hours later provided the weekend’s consolation. This time the Elis played the role of the superior team, winning 21-6. The Bulldogs won each weapon by a score of 7-2. Beski led the epee squad, winning both of his matches while Chris Peterson ’07 paced sabre with three wins of his own.
But like its female counterpart, the men’s team’s focus has quickly switched to next weekend’s H-Y-P and Duke meet. The Elis are currently winless in the Ivy League and Beski said he expects similar competition to what they faced against the Lions.
“H-Y-P will be tougher, so this should be seen as a good warm up,” Beski said. “If [the epee squad] can do as well against them as we did against Columbia, I will be happy. It will take a stronger showing to match the score against either team.”
Rohbrach said the key to a stronger showing is the attitude each fencer brings to his individual matches.
“At this point in the season, winning is less about what we do in between our meets and more about what we do during the meets themselves,” Rohrbach said. “We just need to go up to Cambridge motivated, focused and determined to come out of there with wins. Winning these matches is going to be about game-day readiness and heart.”
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