The men and women of Princeton fencing faced four teams this past weekend at Sacred Heart’s Tradition Tournament in Fairfield, Conn. They emerged victorious on all counts, with wins over Sacred Heart, NYU, Vassar and Penn State. This was the second tournament of the season for both the men's and women's teams, who had mixed results in the Penn Elite Invitational, with the men's teams winning two and losing three, whilst the women's team won four and lost two.
Penn State managed to present the most substantial challenge for Princeton men and women. The lady Nittany Lions had a 6-3 edge in the épée while the men took a 6-3 win in the foil. These losses marked the only suffered by the Tigers in a given weapon. Despite the close competition, Princeton topped the State College fencers by scores 15-12 on the men’s side and 16-11 on the women’s.
The Tigers’ matches against Vassar constituted the day’s most dominant performance. The men went a perfect 9-0 in both foil and saber bouts, amassing a final advantage of 26-1. Vassar’s women fared hardly better, with the Tigers going 9-0 in the Saber and earning a 24-3 decision.
The Tigers also dominated against NYU too, with the men's team winning 19-8, with an especially dominant 8-1 performance in the saber, despite tougher challenges in the épée, where the men's team edged a 5-4 victory and the foil, which provided a 6-3 result for the team. The women's team were even more dominant, cruising to a 21-6 victory, including a 9-0 sweep in the saber and 6-3 wins in both the épée and the foil.
Hosts Sacred Heart did not fare much better against the Tigers’ clearly superior team, as the men’s team defeated Sacred Heart 19-8 behind dominating performances in the foil and saber events, whilst the women's team won 20-7 behind comfortable victories in all three events.
Although the Tigers still compete at the very top of the collegiate fencing world, they are now somewhat removed from the dominance they achieved as national champions in 2013. While Midwest powerhouses Ohio State and Notre Dame have remained significant obstacles, Ivy League competition has improved such that Penn and Columbia can regularly vie for the conference’s top spot.
Before competing in last March’s NCAA Championship, the men had secured an No. 8 national ranking — according to the CollegeFencing360.com Coaches Poll — while the women finished ranked third nationally. In the year-end tournament, both sides finished fourth in a field of 25. Additionally, Princeton’s teams had turned in very impressive performances in February’s National Squad Championships: the women took first place in foil and saber as well as third in the épée while the men finished second in épée and saber.
Princeton fencers will have some time before their next competition. On Jan. 30 both the men's and women's fencing teams will travel to Evanston, Ill. for the Northwestern Duals. While the men’s and women’s team experienced success in the tournament’s 2015 iteration, both sides fell to highly-ranked Notre Dame teams whom they will face again in 2016.
The Ivy League Round-Robin, this year hosted by Cornell, will fall on the following week. The two day event will start on Saturday, Feb. 6 and will be hosted in Ithaca, N.Y.