Yale’s men’s and women’s fencing teams encountered some obstacles in Sunday’s Ivy League Championship meet, the second of two to decide the title for the Ancient Eight, but both teams saw improvement over last year. The women’s team earned a 2-4 Ivy League record, coming in fifth place in the Ancient Eight, while the men’s team finished 1-4 in the league in a three-way tie for fourth place with Brown and Harvard.
Both squads’ captains said they were pleased with the fencers’ performance compared to last year, citing the women’s team’s improvement over its 0-6 conference record from last year, and the men’s team’s overall record, in which the Bulldogs won more than half their bouts this season.
“Despite the disappointing losses this weekend, we finished better in the Ivy League and had a better season record than last year,” team manager Andrew Holbrook ’10 said of the foil squad. “We definitely showed improvement.”
The women’s team finished 1-2 on Sunday, beginning the day with a tough loss against Princeton. While Princeton only eked out a 5-4 win against the epeeists and fell 5-4 to Yale’s sabre squad, foil was the deciding factor, as Princeton pulled off a 7-2 finish against Yale. Despite the loss, strong individual finishes abounded, as Katherine Arden ’10 and Farrah Kimovek ’10 for sabre as well as epeeist Rebecca Moss ’10 all finished 2-1.
Also, every fencer but one was able to win at least one bout against Princeton, reflecting a team cohesion that captain Lidia Gocheva ’09 said was a key factor in their performance this weekend.
Undeterred after their loss to Princeton, the women’s squad rallied and brought Cornell to its knees, earning an 18-9 finish for Yale. Not only did nearly every fencer win at least one bout, but there also were several impressive individual showings, particularly by Jennifer Ivers ’10 for sabre, whose 3-0 finish helped the sabre squad earn an impressive 7-2 win.
“I was very proud of our win against Cornell,” Gocheva said. “Many people contributed, and the entire team came together and got us the victory that we needed.”
The women’s team finished with a 6-21 loss against Penn, who snuck ahead of Yale in the Ivy rankings, earning a fourth place finish in the league.
Still, Gocheva said the team did well, pointing to the team’s strong underclassman performance and overall teamwork, which gives her hope for next season.
“We have a strong class of freshmen who contributed to the team,” she said. “We also had a great team spirit, which was crucial for our performance.”
Although the men’s team finished 0-2 for the day against Penn and Princeton, the squad saw strong individual performances and took heart in their overall record for the year, 11-7 in all dual meets, compared to 7-9 last year.
Like the women, the men’s squad came close to beating Princeton, but was ultimately brought down in one weapon, in this case epee. The Bulldogs earned 5-4 finishes in sabre and foil, with 3-0 wins for Sebastian Cano-Besquet ’09 and Nathanial Botwinick ’11, who fence sabre and foil respectively. But epee proved the team’s stumbling block, when the team fell 2-7.
“We lost by a close margin that could have easily gone our way,” captain Michael Pearce ’09 said. “Their epee squad was what really carried them, as they have the deepest and most talented epee squad in the league, if not the country.”
Next Yale faced Penn, this year’s Ivy League champion; understandably, the Bulldogs found stiff competition, finishing 5-22.
Still, two fencers performed particularly well against the dominant Penn, as Shiv Kachru ’12 for foil and Thomas Bell ’10 for epee both finished 2-1.
The men’s team was ultimately rewarded for its strong performance over the season, earning a fourth place title in the Ivy League, one place better than last year.
Pearce and Cano-Besquet were named to All-Ivy first and second teams, respectively.
Pearce’s third First Team All-Ivy finish is particularly impressive, since it makes him the first epeeist to win First Team three of four years in the Ivy League since 1999.
Both teams are now looking forward to the Intercollegiate Fencing Championships on Saturday, Feb. 28.