Plagued by injuries, the men’s and women’s fencing teams had to settle for eighth place at the United States Collegiate Squad Championships on Sunday.
Although members of the men’s team said the championships, hosted at New York University, are typically treated as a “pre-match” for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, the team was nevertheless disappointed by its failure to win any medals. The women’s team earned 72 points in competition, while the men’s team won 77 points.
The women’s team made it to the round of eight in épée. In the first round, women’s épée faced Brown for the second time this season and proceeded to the next round after defeating the Bears with a 45–38 score.
“I was really happy to beat Brown [in épée] again in the first meet,” captain Robyn Shaffer ’13 said.
However, in the next round, the Elis lost 45–28 against St. John’s, the team that eventually went on to take third place overall. In foil, the Bulldogs fell to Brown by a score of 45–22. One of the key foilists, Lauren Miller ’15, has not recovered from her injury, which played a big role in the poor results: Épéeist Maryne Dijkstra ’15 had to step in for Miller. In saber, the team took on North Carolina but lost 45–25, with standout saberist Madeline Oliver ’13 not competing in the match. Overall, épée ended in eighth, foil in ninth and saber in 13th place overall.
“We focused on enjoying today’s match and our team really did,” Shaffer said. “It prepared us for the upcoming NCAA Northeast Regional in two weeks.”
As last year’s defending champions, the men’s team also could not grab a single medal and failed to defend its title on Sunday.
“Today’s match was not the best,” foilist and team manager Jose Martinez ’12 said. “We did not perform up to my expectations of the team, but that said we were fencing very short-handed.”
Last season’s silver medal-winning épée and foil squads both fell to the Tar Heels in the first round by a score of 38–45 and 45–41, respectively. Although the saber squad also failed to win back the bronze medal, it went on to the second round after defeating local rival No. 9 Sacred Heart, 45–37.
Men’s team captain Shiv Kachru ’12 said that the tournament was tougher this year, as more teams competed at a higher level. Although head coach Henry Harutunian had said in an interview before the championship that his saber squad was somewhat weaker than other weapons in the Ivies, last weekend it was the Bulldogs’ best weapon. However, the Elis faced the Lions in the second round and lost 45–37, failing both to revenge their loss in the Ivies two weeks ago and to proceed to the semi-finals in the tournament. The men’s saber squad ended in the seventh spot, foil in ninth and épée in 10th.
“We had a pretty bare-bones squad because of injuries and illness, so a mixture of starters and alternates fenced,” Martinez said.
The Elis now have two major competitions awaiting them: the NCAA Northeast Regional and the National Championship.
“I want more fencers from my team to qualify,” Kachru said. “Last year we had three [including myself] qualify in foil and épée. I wish the saber does better so that we can get the number up.”
Since the team’s major matches of the season are during and shortly after spring break, members of the team said that those who do not have active clubs in their hometowns or live too far away to make travel worth the trip will stay in New Haven to practice. Other fencers will also make good use of their time by visiting their original clubs, fencing some different opponents and working with their old coaches.
The Elis will compete in the NCAA Northeast Regional on March 11.