After posting a combined 1-5 record in the Ivy South Competition on Feb. 11, the Bulldogs will enter the final round of the 2007 Ivy League Fencing Championships this Sunday looking for redemption.

Unfortunately, the path doesn’t get any easier. The men’s squad will face off against talented teams from Harvard and Princeton as the women’s squad takes on Cornell in addition to the Tigers and the Cantabs. The latest edition of the USFCA College Fencing Coaches’ Poll ranks Harvard as the No. 1 men’s team in the nation and the Tigers as No. 3. On the women’s side, the Crimson are ranked third and squads from both Cornell and Princeton received votes.

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A few Elis had a final chance to make a few adjustments over the weekend. The women’s squad had four freshmen compete in the Junior Olympics last Sunday. The young sabre squad, composed of three freshmen and one senior, gained valuable experience against some of the best fencers in the nation. Katherine Arden ’10 finished 55th, Farrah Kimovec ’10 came in 52nd and Jennifer Ivers ’10 placed 39th. The Elis also sent epeeist Rebecca Moss ’10, who highlighted her impressive rookie campaign by finishing 14th against the country’s elite.

“This season, the freshmen have been the stars,” Erin Frey ’08 said. “I think half our starters are freshmen.”

In the last week before the conclusion of conference competition, the Elis have concentrated on shoring up fundamentals and improving their technique.

“A lot of us have been trying to work on our competitive attitude and make sure that we’re focused,” John Gurrieri ’10 said. “Some of us have been trying to work on the little things that end up determining points and bouts.”

No matter what happens this weekend, the men’s squad is guaranteed to accomplish what no Bulldog team has done since 2002 — finish the season with a winning record. The Elis entered the Ivy South Competition with a 9-6 record and needed only one victory over an Ancient Eight opponent to ensure a winning season. With a 21-6 thrashing of Brown, Yale took care of business.

Much of the men’s success this season can also be attributed to their talented freshmen class, led by foilist Gurrieri. He won five out of nine bouts in the Ivy South Competition and has an outside chance of finishing second-team All-Ivy depending on his performance this weekend. Women’s standout Moss, who is in contention for second-team All-Ivy honors, continued her strong season by posting a 6-3 record in the first round of league play.

Despite going without wins in the first stage of conference competition, the women’s squad is not letting any of the disappointment carry over and is hoping to turn things around this weekend.

“We’re mature enough people to accept that we didn’t have a very good meet and move on and do our best from there,” Moss said. “We’re not thinking about our last meet when we go into the next.”

As a whole, the Bulldogs have been remarkably successful this season. With the continued development of their star freshmen, the Elis are in prime position to use this year’s campaign as a springboard for future success. For now, the Bulldogs are just concentrating on finishing their season on a high note, as evidenced by their approach in recent practices.

“What we’re trying to work on is pretending that it’s 4-4 and then trying to win,” Gurrieri said. “A lot of times you get four but clinching it is a whole other thing.”