Three tournaments down. Three to go.
Midway through the season, Penn men’s and women’s fencing seemed to have defined their statuses at the Philadelphia Invitational, held at Temple Saturday.
The men, who were 6-0 on the day and are now 13-1 on the season, confirmed that they had a shot at winning the Ivy Tournament, their ultimate goal.
The women (11-4), on the other hand, lost to two top-ranked opponents and validated coach Andy Ma’s observation that the team is solid, but not yet a contender for the Ivy crown.
“There’s a group of 10 strong schools. Penn is part of both of those for both women’s and men’s,” sophomore Sarah Parmacek said. “Then, there’s Penn State, Notre Dame and maybe St. John’s that challenge for the NCAA title every year. “The men’s team is pushing into that second group. The women are still in that group of strong schools but not quite at the top.”
The men defeated No. 9 Duke, 18-9. Meanwhile, the women lost to No. 7 Northwestern and No. 9 Temple, 16-11 and 18-9, respectively.
Two athletes on the women’s team — Luona Wang and Tiffany Chan — fenced injured. On top of that, Wang was also suffering from a flu.
“This is the time of the season — an important meet,” Ma said. “They both had no choice. They had to fence.”
At the beginning of the season, the women narrowly lost to Temple, 14-13. They expected to face them again two weeks ago at the Penn State Invitational. But due to a scheduling error, they only met the Owls for a first rematch this week, their last bout of the day. Injured and exhausted, the Red and Blue could not pull off an upset.
“I would say it definitely wasn’t our ideal setup,” Parmacek said. “That’s not to say that anyone threw in the towel. If you were to see the Temple match … there was still the effort.”
The Northwestern matchup was intense and disappointing for the women.
“There were a lot of five-four bouts that went either way and kept us from getting the win,” Parmacek said.
After the tournament, Ma emphasized that the women’s team continues to be in a building phase.
“Hopefully, next year we will have a chance to beat them,” he said. “We need some strong recruiting.”
Meanwhile, the men continued what has so far been an excellent season. On Saturday, they won each match by at least nine points. In addition to their victory over the Blue Devils, they also beat Sacred Heart, 19-8, for the second time this season.
“It’s all about momentum right now,” senior Evan Prochniak said. “I think we’ve got good momentum.”
Both teams will fence at the Eric Sollee Invitational in Cambridge, Mass. next week.