Fencing: Women repeat as league champions on home turf
Despite sweeping the conference tournaments last year, neither team was the favorite going into this weekend. The entire league looked equally competitive, particularly on the men’s side, where No. 7 Penn and No. 2 Harvard received a talented incoming freshman class. Without any early-season Ivy League match-ups, it was hard to predict where the Tigers would place this weekend, but with Dudas’ match-ups, the Tigers had a very strong showing.
The women’s team performed excellently on Saturday with wins over Cornell, Brown and Harvard. The No. 4 Tigers continued to demonstrate their strength on Sunday, defeating No. 6 Columbia, Yale and No. 8 Penn to clinch the Ivy League title for a second consecutive year. Second place went to the Lions, whom the Tigers beat 15-12. A pair of sophomores, saberist Eliza Stone and epeeist Phoebe Caldwell, helped the Tigers control the match by scoring 3-0 against their Columbia counterparts, while Princeton’s foil squad won six out of nine bouts.
Many Tigers were honored with first-team and second-team mentions. Stone finished 16-2 in saber to claim All-Ivy League honors alongside Harvard’s Caroline Vloka and Columbia’s Loweye Diedro. Her fellow sophomore, epeeist Hannah Safford, who won the Junior World Cup fencing event in Spain in December, also captured All-Ivy honors with her 15-3 epee record. A trio of freshman — Diamond Wheeler, Eve Levin and Hyun-Kyung Yuh — and sophomore Joanna Cichomski all received second-team honors.
“Although we did feel the pressure to win [the Ivy League title] again, I think one of things we did well this weekend was really being a team,” Safford said. “No individual fenced particularly well against every single school, but together, we were able to pick each other up. We lost two bouts against different schools by small margins at Northwestern, and I think it was an issue to carry the energy and momentum. We learned, and we got better at keeping our energy sustained. Every bout mattered.”
The men’s team was equally tough against its competitors. After Saturday, when the Crimson defeated the Tigers in a close bout of 17-10, the Tigers fought more close bouts the following day. Princeton opened Sunday with a 19-8 win over Columbia but suffered close losses to Yale, 14-13, and Penn, 15-12. Harvard eventually took the title, defeating Yale in a very close match that came down to the last match-up. Harvard epeeist Michael Raynis and Yale epeeist Peter Cohen were tied at 4 with 31 seconds on the clock when Raynis landed his final touch with 16 seconds left to win it for the Crimson. Yale (4-1) came in second, with Penn (3-2) third, followed by Princeton (2-3), Brown (1-4) and Columbia (0-5).
Junior foilist Alex Mills completed the weekend with a first-team All-Ivy League selection and was named the Most Outstanding Performer, while senior saberist John Stogin and sophomore epeeist Jonathan Yergler were second-team honorees.
“We fenced well as a team, but we had a lot of close bouts that didn’t go our way, especially against Harvard, Yale and Penn,” Mills said. “We know what we are capable of, but we learned that we need to keep our intentions up the entire time.”
Both teams will be competing next at the Philadelphia Invitational at Temple on Feb. 27 and will be preparing to fight in the NCAA Championships at the end of March.