Yale’s men’s and women’s fencing teams struck success at the Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championships this weekend with the defense of the Little Iron Man trophy, given to the top men’s foil team, and a one place improvement in the overall team standings compared to last year.
Both teams finished fifth overall in the IFA Championships held at Brandeis on Saturday, and the men’s and women’s teams combined to also score a fifth place finish.
Both squads’ captains said they were greatly impressed with this weekend’s performance, citing the numerous individual performances and the successful defense of the Little Iron Man trophy — the oldest trophy in collegiate sports.
Captain Michael Pearce ’09 said Saturday’s results will set a positive momentum for the rest of the season.
“We proved how competitive our team is with the best schools in the league and region,” Pearce said.
Captain Lidia Gocheva ’10 was equally happy with Saturday’s performances. For Gocheva, the highlight of the competition was the unity displayed by the whole team when Tasha Garcia ’11 and Rebecca Moss ’10 met in the direct elimination round.
“The team was cheering for every touch — regardless of who scored it,” Gocheva said.
Indeed, Garcia and Moss’s clash in the elimination round added an additional level of excitement and tension to Saturday’s tournament.
“Fencing somebody whose tactics you know well — and who knows you well — is very different from fencing someone less familiar,” Gocheva noted.
She added, “Competing against a teammate is also an unusual experience which adds another dimension to the bout.”
In the final standings, Garcia placed third in the “C” strip, while Moss finished first in the “A” strip.
For the men’s team, the highlight of the weekend was the defense of the Little Iron Man trophy by Shiv Kachru ’12, Nathaniel Botwinick ’11, John Gurrieri ’10 and Andrew Holbrook ’10 (sub).
“I am really happy to win the Little Iron Man trophy again,” Holbrook said. “The team really came together to support each other.”
Holbrook is the team manager.
The weekend also capped off a number of individual successes for the men’s team. Pearce finished third in the men’s epee individual competition and also finished fourth in his pool. Adam Fields ’12 also won his pool in saber and finished in 14th place overall.
The most impressive individual achievement came from Botwinick, who went undefeated in his pool in foil — continuing a record set last year which paved the way for both Little Iron Man trophies.
Pearce said the week’s results have boosted the team’s confidence going into next week’s NCAA tournament.
“I know everyone is really excited to do well at next week at the NCAA Regionals,” Pearce said.
However, concerns over injuries continue to plague both the men’s and women’s teams. Health problems have forced Gocheva to miss the past few tournaments and curtailed her participation in the Ivy League Championships.
Meanwhile, Holbrook was forced to sit out this week’s tournament with a sprained finger while Dario Martinez ’12 suffered from a torn MCL while fencing saber in his first tournament for the team. The men’s team also bid farewell to Matthew Lee ’09, who fenced in his last intercollegiate competition on Saturday.
Both teams are now looking forward to the NCAA Regional Championship, which will take place Sunday in Cambridge, Mass.