Yale’s foils shone in Waltham, Mass.

Led by its talented young foil squad, the men’s fencing team (2-2) kicked off its season at the Brandeis Invitational on Saturday by matching its record at last year’s tournament — although the Elis won more bouts overall than in 2006.

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Yale beat Boston College and MIT in two close matches, but St. John’s and Brandeis, two consistently high-performing teams, overpowered the Bulldogs.

“We dropped a really close one to Brandeis, who just beat Harvard, one of the strongest teams in the Ivy League, if not the whole country,” epeeist Michael Pearce ’09 said. “And St. John’s is always a really strong team. … This is a really auspicious beginning.”

The foil squad led the tournament-opening match against MIT with a record of 8-1, which allowed the Bulldogs to win, 15-12. The epee squad took six out of nine bouts, while the sabre squad won only one.

But St. John’s put an end to Yale’s wins, taking 17 of 27 bouts. The Yale foil, epee and sabre squads earned four, five and one win, respectively.

In an exciting 14-13 match, the foil squad led the second win against Boston College with seven victories in its nine bouts. The epee and sabre squads took five out of nine bouts, and the sabre squad won two.

The Bulldogs just barely missed the mark against Brandeis, losing 13-14, although the foil squad again gave a strong showing with a 6-3 record. While one team member, epeeist Steve Miller ’08, described the outcome as a “heartbreaking loss,” others, like Pearce, were pleased with the results.

“Brandeis was our last match after a pretty long day,” Pearce said. “The fact that it was so close is a testament to how focused and determined we were.”

John Gurrieri ’10, a foilist who won 10 of his 12 bouts, was also proud of the team’s performance, which he said surpassed his expectations. He said he attributes the success to a cohesive team spirit.

“The team has been working really hard together, and the other foil guys are always pushing each other and giving each other advice,” he said. “We really get along, and that helps us be more supportive and fence better.”

But he said there is room for improvement, and each member of the team has tried to reflect upon the tournament in an effort to recognize his individual flaws. Gurrieri said he hopes to avoid getting “psyched out” in the future.

In dual meets, each team has three squads of three members each, plus alternates. During a match, each member of a squad faces the three members of the opposing team’s squad individually, making for a total of 9 scores from each squad and 27 scores total.

The fencing season officially began Oct. 15th, and the team has been practicing since the beginning of the academic year. Members participated in an individual meet at Penn State earlier in the semester, but the tournament at Waltham was the first official one of the dual meet season.

Yale will host Sacred Heart — a fairly inexperienced team, Gurrieri said — at home Dec. 8 in the last meet of the semester. Gurrieri said the team is feeling confident after last weekend.

“I think we’re more experienced as a team, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything,” he said. “But judging by our team’s performance last weekend, I think we will do well.”