The Yale fencing teams combined for an undefeated performance at the Brandeis Invitational last weekend, highlighted by two upsets of top-five ranked St. John’s teams.
The Eli women dominated the field, allowing only one of the five teams they faced to reach double digits as they won all five of their matches. The five-star success was matched by the Bulldog men, who also had a perfect day as the two teams swept all 10 matches they fenced.
“I’m extremely proud of the team’s performance this weekend,” women’s captain and epeeist Katherine Miller ’17 said. “We fenced great and maintained our performance throughout the whole day. We’re a really strong, balanced team this year, and we have the confidence to act on our abilities.”
The Eli women opened the day with three dominating victories. Boston College fell in the opening match, a 21–6 blowout that underscored Yale’s excellence on the mat. After clipping the Eagles’ wings, the Bulldogs swatted aside host Brandeis and MIT by identical 19–8 scorelines.
The fourth match marked the climax of the day. Facing a St. John’s team ranked No. 5 in the country, the Elis stepped up to the plate and delivered a sequence of victorious bouts that knocked out the Red Storm, 18–9.
The Yale foil squad won all nine of the bouts they contested in the match, leading the way in the victory. The saber squad posted a convincing margin of victory as well, beating St. John’s 6–3, an especially commendable performance considering the Red Storm boasted two of the top eight saber finishers from last year’s NCAA championships.
“Before yesterday, we hadn’t even really considered that we could beat St. John’s, since historically they’ve been an extremely dominant team,” Miller said. “But, we also didn’t think we’d be able to beat No. 7 Northwestern a few weeks ago and then we did. At the beginning of the St. John’s match, when we had strong starts from foil and saber, the knowledge that we’ve already exceeded expectations once this semester was a good motivator and made us feel as though an overall win was within our reach.”
The Bulldogs capped off the day with their closest call, but still vanquished the North Carolina Tar Heels 15–12. UNC was the only team to rack up double digits against the Elis, who returned to New Haven with a clean sweep and a superb performance.
The Yale men reached the same lofty heights as the women, with five strong victories against the same schools. The Bulldogs turned aside MIT to open up the day, beating the Engineers 15–12, with balanced contributions from each of the three squads: epee, foil and saber.
“This weekend was a success par excellence,” foilist Daniel Flesch ’19 said. “It was a symphony of swordplay and a sonata of flashing steel, a grand return to the time-honored traditions of Yale fencing. We really bamboozled some talented fencers, which allowed us to beat even St. John’s.”
The Elis’ successful run continued with a 16–11 triumph over Boston College, led by a dominant foil squad which notched a 7–2 mark, highlighted by an undefeated three-peat from Aiden Ahn ’20, who won 12 of his 14 bouts on the day overall. The epee squad then took center stage in the 17–10 victory over host Brandeis, winning seven times.
The St. John’s match proved the ultimate challenge for Yale, but they emerged victorious in a 14–13 thriller over a Red Storm team that is ranked No. 4 nationally. The cathartic victory kept Eli dreams of a perfect weekend alive, as they faced off against a North Carolina team they had held to single-digit bout wins earlier in the season.
History repeated itself as the Elis stormed to an 18–9 victory. An undefeated match from the epee squad drove the Bulldogs across the finish line, as they capped off a sterling tournament.
The combined 10–0 mark from the two teams gives the Elis a fantastic foundation to build on as they head off on a well-deserved break, before resuming their season at the onset of the second semester.
“Overall [this weekend had] a bedazzling display of verve from the Knights of Eli,” epeeist Skyler Chin ’19 said. “It was pure guile, interspersed with luck and teamwork, which allowed us to baffle some of the best swordsmen in the land. The pertinacity of our comrades managed to prevail [against] some amazing competition.”
Yale next fences on Jan. 15 when it travels to Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, to duel at Penn State.