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If its first meet is any indication of what is to come for the Penn women's fencing team, it can expect plenty of reasons to cheer this season. The Quakers (2-0) could not have asked for a better way to kick off their season Saturday. They defeated Rutgers and Haverford at the Penn Invitational in Weightman Hall. "It was a team effort up and down," Penn fencing coach Dave Micahnik said. "Everyone pulled together and helped each other out. Everyone came through with something for us, so I'm very pleased." Haverford was the perfect first opponent for the Quakers. The Fords' lack of experience gave Penn's young team a chance to overcome early-season jitters. The Quakers' 26-1 win featured strong performances across the board, with freshman reserves getting the opportunity to compete against Haverford's regular line-up. While Rutgers proved a tougher foe, the Quakers still prevailed, 18-9. Epeeist Kim Linton and foilists Lauren Staudinger and Stacey Wertlieb -- all members of a superb sophomore class -- each won all three of their bouts against the Scarlet Knights. "The only surprise is how incredibly well we did," said Penn co-captain Mindy Nguyen. "After the meet, Coach Micahnik was almost in tears. I've never seen him so moved before." The newcomers, too, were pleased with the results of their first collegiate meet. "I was kind of nervous at first, but the team was very supportive," said freshman Cindy Wang, who was 5-1 on the day. "[The match against] Haverford helped ease into things. I just wanted to do well, and I did better than I thought I would." The spirited atmosphere in Weightman Hall may also have played a critical role in the wins. The benches beside each strip were crowded with members of the fencing team, cheering for their teammates and giving each other encouragement throughout the bouts. While the Quakers are pleased with their performances against Rutgers and Haverford, they know they will face tougher opponents later in the season. Next weekend, the Quakers will travel to Penn State to square off against four strong teams, including perennial powerhouse St. John's. "[The Penn State Invitational] should be a good experience," Staudinger said. "The freshmen will see what it's like to fence tougher opponents and hopefully we'll win some." With a smile, she added, "Hopefully, we'll win them all."

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