Courtesy of Yale Athletics
A cacophony of clashing blades gave way to roars of victory as the Yale fencing teams completed resounding success this weekend in their first and only contests at Payne Whitney Gymnasium this season. Both the Eli men’s and women’s squads vanquished Sacred Heart and Vassar handily, treating the home crowd to an undefeated weekend.
The Bulldog women smoked Vassar 22–5 and cruised past Sacred Heart by a score of 20–7. The Yale men eviscerated the Brewers 19–8, and although the Pioneers put up the only double-digit score against Yale on the afternoon, they fell as well by a final score of 16–11.
“[Because] we so rarely compete in front of a home crowd, the team is not used to having so much support,” captain and epeeist Katherine Miller ’17 said. “That can either improve or cripple performance depending on how people take the pressure. I think our decisive wins were testament to the fact that the crowd really energized the team and pushed us to fence to the best of our ability. Especially for the seniors, it was really special to have a chance to compete one last time for our friends and family.”
The Yale women came into the weekend on a skid after suffering two excruciatingly narrow losses to close out a disappointing 1–5 performance at Penn State three weeks ago. In a welcome return to their pre-Christmas form, however, the Elis assembled a commanding top-to-bottom performance back on their home turf.
All three squads contributed in a strong team performance. The Elis opened the day with a 22–5 rout of a bewildered Vassar squad that was one week removed from its first win over Brown in the program’s history. Yale quickly dissipated the Brewers’ momentum in dominant fashion; the saber and epee fencers both went 7–2, while the foil contingent one-upped them with an 8–1 display.
The home team built on its solid foundation with another comfortable victory over Sacred Heart, this time by a similar 20–7 margin. The Pioneers gave Yale some trouble with their saber squad, but the Bulldogs easily surmounted a 3–0 day from Sacred Heart’s Julia Greene in the discipline to cruise to an overall victory.
The day provided an emotional coda for the Eli seniors, who fenced their final regular-season bouts in front of the home fans. All three of the female seniors who competed finished the weekend with winning records; Miller highlighted the day with an undefeated five-win outing, while saberists Joanna Lew ’17 and Lillie Lainoff ’18 both posted 4–2 scorecards.
The men matched the positive results achieved by the women’s squad with a clean sweep of their own. Yale entered the match on a roll, having clinched a winning record in its last tournament which included close losses against national powerhouses No. 1 Columbia and No. 3 Penn State. The Elis rolled over Vassar 19–8 to open the afternoon, with each squad contributing evenly to the win.
“The weekend was really fun,” foilist Daniel Flesch ’19 said. “Every senior got a win on senior day, we dealt with two worthy opponents and got the job done. It was a majestic display of the power of Yale coaching and training, on our own turf. We’re a calm, balanced [and] relaxed team; we’re 12–5 for a reason.”
After the victory over the Brewers, the men’s side doubled its success with a slightly tenser triumph over Sacred Heart. The Pioneer foil team was the only squad to mar Yale’s otherwise favorable record, defeating the Elis 6–3. Despite that slip-up, the Bulldogs dueled to an overall victory to cap off a perfect team weekend.
The success provided a fitting send-off for the four seniors on the men’s team — captain and saberist Reed Srere ’17, epeeists Steven Castano ’17 and Frederick Muth ’17 and saberist Ian Richards ’17, as each member of the quartet picked up at least one victory on Senior Day.
“It’s been a solid season for [the team] so far,” epeeist Skyler Chin ’19 said. “The home crowd made the bamboozlement that much more sweet. Each [fencer] had a unique opportunity to entertain friends and family.”
Yale returns to action next weekend in the Ivy League Round-Robins at Penn, where it will face off against Penn and Princeton. Both the Quakers and the Tigers are rank ahead of Yale in the national polls, checking in at No. 6 and No. 2 respectively in women’s fencing and No. 6 and No. 5 in men’s fencing. Yale is not ranked in either poll.
The Payne Whitney Gymnasium will host NCAA fencing regionals in March.