Yasmine Halmane, Photo Editor

The Yale men’s and women’s fencing squads showed their mettle this weekend as they won all of their matches at the Drew Invitational. 

Drew hosted the competition, which took place in Madison, New Jersey on Sunday, Feb. 27. The Bulldogs played Drew and the other two teams present, Hunter and Lafayette, twice, finishing with a 6–0 record. The No. 10 women’s team beat Hunter 26–1 and 27–0, Drew 22–5 and 24–3 and Lafayette 18–9 and 22–5 while the No. 11 men’s team defeated Hunter 26–1 and 25–2, Drew 19-8 and 17–10 and Lafayette 20–7 and 23–4. The event was not originally included in the Bulldogs’ schedule, but helps make up for a missed event. 

“We had a good competition this weekend,” interim head coach Marat Israelian said. “The team fenced well and helped their records coming into regionals. This meet was a supplementary meet as we missed a Penn State competition this season due to COVID. But it was a great competition for us, most of the team did well and we are ready to continue to regionals.”

The women’s team began play by facing Hunter where the epee and saber squads both earned clean sheets of 9–0 and foil dropped a single point for a score of 8–1. The Bulldogs bested the host team with scores of 6–3, 8–1 and 8–1 for epee, foil and saber respectively. Lafayette put up the strongest fight, but the Blue and White still prevailed with epee earning 7–2, foil 6–3 and saber 5–4. 

In the second round of women’s play, the Bulldogs remained steady as all three components earned clean sheets of 9–0 against Hunter. Foil and saber preserved these clean sheets against Drew while epee scored a 6–3 victory against the Rangers. In the last match of the women’s competition, Lafayette drew out points from each of the Bulldogs’ squads as epee and foil went 7–2 while saber earned an 8–1 score.

“What’s unique about this tournament is that we had to go in with a slightly different mentality than say if we were going to fence Ivies or slightly stronger state schools just purely because we knew that we had an advantage going in being one of the stronger schools,” Christina Zozulya ’24 said. “There’s always pressure but I feel like this was a different kind of pressure, a pressure to win rather than to perform well.”

The men began their winning streak with foil and saber earning clean sheets against Hunter while epee dropped a single point. Host Drew proved to be more of a challenge with both foil and saber going 7–2 as epee won 5–4. Saber earned another clean sheet against Lafayette while foil won 5–4 and epee went 6–3.

The men’s side of play resumed with the Bulldogs earning two more clean sheets against Hunter as epee dropped two. While the Rangers routed the saber squad 5–4, the Blue and White epee and foil squads earned 7–2 and 6–3 to preserve the winning streak. Capping off the last match against Lafayette, the Bulldogs’ foil and saber components earned two more clean sheets. 

After ending the Ivy League Round Robin with a 3–3 record on the women’s side and a 0–4 record on the men’s and ahead of the NCAA Northeast Regionals, the Drew Invitational gave the Bulldogs a confidence boost and provided preparation for the next competition. 

Zozulya emphasized the support provided by her teammates Linda Liu ’23 and Shirley Wang ’22 as three remained consistent in the women’s epee line-up. Likewise, much of the men’s lineup repeated with Victor Osoliniec ’24 remaining on for all saber matches while Mati Zeff ’22 remained on for all epee bouts. Allan Ding ’24, Tulyag Fyze ’25 and Daniel Li ’22 remained a consistent line up for the men’s foil squad.

“Although our overall team record was short of what we wanted, the most important thing is that we know what we’re up against and what we need to work on,” Safi Haider ’22 said after the Ivy League Round Robin event. “The team is in great hands under Coach Israelian, and I trust Ted Vinnitchouk ’24 to lead the epee squad for the next few years.” 

The Bulldogs will next play the NCAA Northeast Regionals in Poughkeepsie, New York on the weekend of March 12.

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.