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Defeats to Columbia harm fencing's quest for Ivy title

Oe knew it would be close but we were hoping to pull it off," epee sophomore Jason Burrell said.

His words captured the sentiments of both the men's and women's fencing teams going into their much anticipated competitions with Columbia. Unfortunately for Princeton, both teams came close but they could not pull off victory.

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The women's team faced Columbia on Wednesday, Jan. 28, when it traveled to New York City hoping to upset the Lions. After the end of competition, the final score stood at 16 bouts apiece. Once all the touches were counted, however, Columbia held a 120-105 advantage and claimed the win.

"Its disappointing to lose on touches," sophomore epee and new team captain Nicole Polan-ichka said, "but Columbia's a hard team and we were happy to do as well as we did. We're a young team and we really put forth a team effort."

Goodbye for now

Besides having important ramifications in determining the Ivy League title because Columbia is undefeated in the the Ivy League, the match was also significant because it was the last of the season for junior Caitlin Rich, who is taking a semester abroad in Costa Rica. Besides serving as team captain, Rich was one of the leading performers for the women's team and her absence will surely hurt the Tigers.

"It helped that Caitlin Rich was there (against Columbia)," Polanichka said. "It was her last match with us and we really pulled together."

The men's squad traveled to Columbia Saturday, hoping to extend its unbeaten streak and maintain its expectations for an Ivy title. Despite a strong effort by Princeton's sabre contingent, the Tigers fell to Columbia, 16-11.

"It was an important meet because it basically determines who wins the Ivies," Burrell said. "It just wasn't our day. On another day we would have won."

Third time not a charm

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Princeton and Columbia have been Ivy rivals in recent years, with Princeton winning the previous two meetings. The loss to Columbia was disheartening for the men as well as the women, who joined the men's team to fence St John's later on Saturday.

St. John's is traditionally one of the strongest teams in the nation and both Tiger squads had to have spectacular performances to beat them. The men lost 16-11 to the Red Storm while the women lost, 18-14.

"St John's is really good and after losing to Columbia we really needed to pull together if we were to beat them," Burrell said.

Against the Red Storm, the foil squads led the Tiger charge. For the men, junior Darren Raphael and freshmen Dustin Reagan both went 2-1, while freshman Lisa Leslie and sophomore Orsolya Szotyory-Grove excelled for the women's team, posting identical 4-0 marks.

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The women next travel to Ithaca, N.Y., to face Ivy rival Cornell, as well as Brandeis, while some of the men's team competes in the Junior Olympics. The competition against Cornell is significant because the Albert Peters, Big Red head coach, was once an assistant fencing coach for Princeton.

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