The Yale men’s and women’s fencing teams continued strong starts to their seasons by each winning three out of four bouts this weekend at the Brandeis Invitational.
Both squads defeated Boston College, MIT and host Brandeis. The two Eli losses on Sunday came against St. John’s, which would end the day with a combined record 9-0. The Thunderbirds finished last season ranked No. 7 and No. 10 in the country for their women’s and men’s teams respectively, according to a CollegeFencing360.com coaches poll. In comparison, the Elis placed No. 9 and No. 8 in the same rankings. The women’s team was scheduled to compete in a fifth match against Wellesley, but the bout was ultimately canceled due to weather conditions and fears that the teams wouldn’t make it back in time.
“It feels good to be doing well,” foilist Emme Zhou ’23 said. “But I always remind myself that I should keep working harder since I have such an amazing coach and good teammates. The season just began so I want to continue to work hard and keep improving with my team. Going into break, I think it’s important to keep in mind that I have to stay in shape, since I have to come back early for winter training.”
The women’s team’s loss to St. John’s was a close 14–13 tilt, which echoed Yale’s equally narrow victory from last year’s tournament against the Thunderbirds. The Elis, however, did not let this result faze them, and they decisively defeated the MIT Beavers 20–7. Seven Yale fencers went undefeated this weekend, among them all of the foil squad: Jenny Zhao ’21, Camille Pham ’21, Anna Zhou ’20, Emme Zhou ’23 and Julia Balch ’23. While the Bulldogs did not have the same success in Waltham as they did last year when they swept all of their four opponents, the tournament was still a huge success and ends 2019 on a high note.
The men’s team started its day winning a narrow victory 14–13 against the Screaming Eagles, but none of the remaining matches would be as close. The Elis’ other two victories against the Judges and the Engineers produced healthier margins of 22–5 and 16–11 respectively, and their only loss to the Thunderbirds ended 18–9.
“Although it may seem trivial, keeping a smile on your face and upright shoulders is very important in team competitions,” foilist Allan Ding ’23 said. “Since each bout is only to five points, there is a wider margin for your opponents to take an unexpected win. So as compared to individual competitions, where poor body language following a loss can have no negative effects on the people around you, it can have a disastrous effect on team morale where your teammates reciprocate the energy you give off.”
This was not the only competition in which the Elis participated over the break. While most Yalies were busy celebrating Team 147’s victory over Harvard, the Eli fencers were hard at work in individual competitions at the Penn State Garret Open. The Garret Open is formatted in three rounds of pools with cuts made after each, followed by a direct elimination tableau for the top 16.
The women fencers performed well, with nearly all of them qualifying in the top 15 of their respective weapons. Foilist Earnest Chen ’22 finished tied for third in a tough competition pool of strong fencers from powerhouse schools including Columbia, Penn State, Ohio State and more.
“I think we’re going to have a really successful rest of the season,” saberist Sydney Hirsch ’23 said. “We have a very positive team dynamic so far. Everyone cheers for each other at meets and there’s a lot of energy. I think especially as the season progresses, our fencing itself will get a lot better, which means even more team hype.”
The Bulldogs will head back to Happy Valley on Jan. 12 to resume their season after winter break.
Eugenio Garza Garcia | firstname.lastname@example.org