Courtesy of Kristina Kim

The Yale men’s and women’s fencing teams posted mixed results on Sunday at the Penn State Invitational. The men’s team defeated all but one opposing school, while the women’s team won two out of six total matches.

Sunday’s meet kicked off the Bulldogs’ third competition of the season, with the Elis last fighting at the Brandeis Invitational on Dec. 2. While the men’s performance at Penn State mirrored the team’s results last month, ending with four wins and only a single loss, the women’s team came away disappointed on Sunday, securing only two wins after winning all of its matches at its previous meet.

“I fenced to my strengths for the most part, and I felt that I made an impact even as a substitute,” Safi Haider ’22 said. “The team as a whole performed exceptionally well, and I’m very proud of how the guys did. The upperclassmen set a strong example.”

The Bulldog men came out victorious against powerhouse No. 2 Columbia, also defeating Haverford, North Carolina and No. 6 Duke. The Bulldogs’ only loss came against host No. 9 Penn State with a final points tally of 17–10. As a team, the Elis improved tremendously compared to last year’s competition, which ended in only a single win against Haverford and losses against four other teams.

“We had a very intense week of training once we came back to prepare for the meet,” Haider added. “We trained from about 8 in the morning until 5. It was rigorous, but we made sure to recover each day and I felt that the hard work paid off with our result.”

Sunday ended on a sour note for the women’s squad, which ended the day with two wins and four losses. The results of the invitational curtailed the Elis’ winning streak, previously buoyed by the women’s five-win sweep in the Brandeis Invitational last month.

The women faced tough teams as well, battling No. 1 Columbia and No. 4 Penn State, which took home second and fourth place at the 2018 NCAA National Championships, respectively. At the Penn State Invitational last year, the Bulldogs won against three opponents but still faltered against the Nittany Lions and Lions, with an additional loss against Temple.

“We had a hard fought day and lost some tough bouts, but I think we are motivated now more than ever to work even harder and keep pushing ourselves,” women’s captain Sarah Pak ’19 said. “We all know what we need to work on to help improve from our last performance, so that’s what we will be doing this week in practice in preparation for our next tournament.”

The Bulldogs still have a long season ahead of them, competing next at the Philadelphia Invitational before hosting schools like Vassar and Sacred Heart in New Haven next month. The season culminates at the NCAA National Championships in a four-day series of bouts.

“I was very proud of how our team competed and supported each other; we fenced the best we have as a team all season and our result showed this,” Cameron Allen ’21 said.

The Elis next head to Philadelphia to compete this Sunday.

Valerie Pavilonis |