The Bulldogs protected their house against a Pioneering Sacred Heart team last night.

The meet against the Pioneers was the Elis’ final home competition of the season. The men’s squad handily beat Sacred Heart, 20-7. The epee squad went 9-0, living up to the potential that they displayed in their last meet, when they beat Notre Dame, one of the top fencing schools in the country. The sabre and foil squads combined for an 11-7 record. The women were equally impressive, posting a strong 21-6 mark.

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The men’s team was coming off a 2-3 performance last Sunday at the NYU Invitational, during which the Elis lost to two national championship contenders and an NYU squad that they had beaten earlier in the year. With Wednesday’s win, the Bulldogs brought their season record to 6-6 and hope to continue their strong performance this Saturday against Vassar.

The women’s squad won 21 of its 27 bouts in one of the Elis’ best performances of the year, matching their 21-6 victory over NYU in November. The women’s record now stands at 8-4, and the team looks poised to continue its recent string of success. The team’s confidence is soaring and last Wednesday’s results will do nothing to counteract the trend.

“We weren’t expecting to lose, if you know what I mean,” Erin Frey ’08 said.

With only one meet left before the Ivy South Competition, the Elis seem to be peaking at the right time. John Beski ’07 said he was pleased with his squad’s performance.

“The epee squad fenced very well,” Beski said. “I was a little disappointed, but we did win, 9-0. That was the first time since I’ve been at Yale that we’ve won 9-0.”

In sports like fencing and squash, team performance is completely contingent on individual success. Each of the three squads has three members who compete in three bouts each. The team to win the majority of the bouts — that is, the first team to reach the magic number 14 — wins the meet. The whole is exactly equal to the sum of its parts, and as a result a team cannot mask individual inconsistency.

Although fencing is primarily an individual sport, the squad still trains together and team chemistry is vital to maintain a winning environment.

“We work very well together and we train great together,” Rebecca Moss ’10 said. “It’s awesome.”

There is no sharpshooter off the bench, and no backup running back with fresh legs to enter the game. The unique nature of the sport necessitates individual brilliance and complete concentration.

“People should be looking to improve themselves,” Steve Miller ’08 said. “We shouldn’t be concentrating on beating [a specific team], we should be concentrating on our individual bouts.”

The discrepancy in talent between a Sacred Heart squad and a team from Notre Dame is undeniable, but the meet still provided a relatively fresh Bulldog squad with invaluable experience heading into conference competition.

“The teams we were facing at NYU, [Ohio State and Notre Dame], are teams that would be fencing at the national championships,” Miller said. “There weren’t any all-stars on [Sacred Heart], but there weren’t any weak fencers either.”

In last year’s NCAA Fencing Championships, the Fighting Irish narrowly edged out rival Ohio State for the title. The Bulldogs finished 17th overall. The Elis’ quest to improve on last season’s success continues this Saturday against a Vassar team that the Bulldogs beat, 21-6, a year ago.

With only one contest left before the Ivy South competition, the Bulldogs look to be in prime shape following their convincing victories over the Sacred Heart Pioneers in their last home meet of the season.