Nobody could touch the Yale women’s fencing team as it finished undefeated and beat the No. 1 Notre Dame squad at the Philadelphia Invitational hosted by Penn on Sunday.
The Eli fencing teams traveled to the “City of Brotherly Love” after a successful outing in Happy Valley a week ago. The women’s team won all five of their bouts and the men’s team went two for five. These results come in light of an updated Jan. 16 CollegeFencing360.com coaches poll in which the women’s team dropped two places from ninth to 11th, and the men’s team stayed at eight.
“I don’t quite understand the criteria for those coaches lists, to be honest, but I think it shows that we’re the underdogs here,” fencer Sydney Hirsch ’23, who won 14 out of her 15 bouts, said. “Maybe people could underestimate us, but we’re as strong a team as any. I think a big part of our success this weekend was that we’re hot off of winter training, as well as last weekend’s successes. A lot of people don’t realize it, but sometimes competition can almost be better training than our daily practices.”
Hirsch was not the only rookie to stand out in Philadelphia. Foilist Emme Zhou ’23 also posted a strong performance in the tournament. Zhou went undefeated in all of her 15 bouts and was part of a foil squad that won against all five schools they faced. This feat was also accomplished by the épéeists.
The women’s team started off its day downing the Fighting Irish. The Elis defeated top-ranked Notre Dame 15–12, a score reversal of their previous meeting at the Penn Elite Invitational in November. In the second round, the team triumphed over No. 7 Temple 16–11 before proceeding to sweep Wayne State in perfect 27–0 fashion. The Bulldogs continued their dominance into the last two matches, coming out on top versus NYU and Drew by scores of 24–3 and 23–4, respectively.
“It feels good to be doing well this last meet,” Zhou said. “But I know that I have so much more to work on in the future. I hope that I can keep it up and keep working hard with my team. I think it was amazing that we beat Notre Dame this time since they are a very strong opponent. It was especially noteworthy since we fenced them first thing in the morning after a long day of traveling the day before. But I can tell that everyone fenced incredibly, and we all worked so hard to get this win and it feels great.”
The men’s team also started off its day against No. 2 Notre Dame. The Elis had previously defeated the South Bend squad back in November but dropped the match on Sunday 11–16. The second bout of the day for the Bulldogs was against No. 5 Ohio State, who finished last season atop the rankings. The Buckeyes narrowly beat the Elis 13–14, but the Yale squad bounced back for a commanding 18–9 win facing opponent Wayne State.
The men’s fencing team lost 10–17 against a No. 12 NYU squad. The Bulldogs lost all of their bouts against ranked opponents, but finished the day with a 19–8 victory in their match against the Rangers.
“Like most fights, the battle is won or lost before it is fought,” said foilist Allan Ding ’23. “While we put in the time at practice, our approach moments leading up to a match should be sharpened. Each squad needs to improve and adapt their strategy given both the strength of our opponents and especially ours so that we can capitalize on less experienced opponents and find the weak spots in our stronger ones.”
The Bulldogs will host Vassar and Sacred Heart on Feb. 1 in their only home meet of the season.
Eugenio Garza Garcia | firstname.lastname@example.org