In their first team-based competitions of the season, the Yale men’s and women’s fencing teams put up strong showings. 

On Sunday, Dec. 5, the Bulldogs traveled to Waltham, Massachusetts where both squads competed in the Brandeis Invitational. The women’s team finished 6–0 against opponents such as host Brandeis University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and St. John’s University, while the men’s team finished 3–2 with wins against Brandeis, MIT and the University of the Incarnate Word. 

“There is a lot of work ahead of us but it was a good starting point for the season,” interim head coach Marat Israelian said. “This was our first official meet and it was important for us to come in ready to compete and be aggressive. The [women’s] squad went undefeated and fenced well but could’ve done better in some individual bouts but overall great competition from them. The men’s team lost two matches to good teams from BC and St. John’s and would need to adapt a little but were fighting hard the entire day. We will make our conclusions, work on our mistake and be ready for our next meet.”

With matches beginning at 9 a.m. sharp, the women’s team started the day by facing off against host Brandeis, where the Bulldogs won decisively 23–4. Broken down, this victory included a 5–4 saber win with returning fencer Sophia Zhuang ’23 and rookies Stephanie Cao ’25 and Cassie Wu ’25. The 9–0 foil victory likewise featured veteran Emme Zhou ’23 and two rookies, Erica Hooshi ’25 and Helen Tan ’25. Meanwhile, the 9–0 epee match featured three returning fencers, Shirley Wang ’22, Joy Ma ’22 and Linda Liu ’23, along with rookie Christina Zozulya ’24.

The women would go on to beat Boston College 19–8 and repeat the same score in their next victory against MIT. After the two Boston schools, the Bulldogs went on to defeat St. John’s in a tight 14–13 victory before beating the University of the Incarnate Word 24–3. In their last match of the day against Wellesley, the Bulldogs repeated their scoreline against Massachusetts schools with a third 19–8 victory.

“The energy is definitely going to shift [before Brandeis],” Zozulya said. “I can see how people are going to be more different, be more excited, and want to bring each other up. It’s definitely going to be an intense month of training … it’s going to be really great for all of us.”

The men’s first match was a much closer contest with a single-digit margin of victory for the Elis in the 14–13 score. The Bulldogs stuttered in their next match against Boston College and lost 16–11 to the Eagles before coming back 14–13 against MIT. The Elis lost against St. John’s 9–18 before closing the competition with a 19–8 win against the University of the Incarnate Word.

In a competitive match against MIT, the men’s squad won in saber and foil 5–4 each, but lost epee 4–5. Rookies Charlson Kim ’24 and Victor Osoliniec ’24 accompanied team captain Nicolas Del Vecchio ’22 in the saber win.

“My goal [with Brandeis] is to conserve my stamina to consistently perform at my best given the sheer volume of bouts we will be fencing while being there for my squad,” Kim said before the competition.

The Bulldogs will compete in the Penn State Invitational during the weekend of Jan. 8. 

Hamera Shabbir covers golf and fencing for the Sports desk and the School of the Environment for the Science and Technology desk. Originally from California's Central Valley, she is a sophomore in Branford College majoring in Environmental Studies.