It’s the first time this season that a team other than Penn fencing will face off at the Quakers’ home stage, and if things go Penn’s way, those teams won’t be eager to come back.
The Red and Blue host five teams in the Philadelphia Invitational this weekend. Penn will face off against Cornell, Northwestern, Sacred Heart, Temple and Duke in the Coach Dave Micahnik Center.
Both the men and women are coming off 3-2 performances in the Penn State Invitational last weekend.
The women faced especially tough competition, falling only to Penn State and last year’s top-ranked Columbia.
“Even though we lost, we were close, so, I would say, [it was] pretty decent. Always could be better, but, not super, but not bad,” coach Andy Ma said.
Freshmen continued to shine for the Quakers, a major trend this season. Freshman sabre Victoria Dang went 11-2 while freshman foil Danielle Ferdon went 9-3.
“I think we are just really motivated to do as best as we can, have a good first impression and just make the team proud,” Ferdon said.
Ma offered a remark about freshmen competing and succeeding at this level so early.
“I would say American fencing is more and more popular, more people fencing in high school,” Ma said. “So, I would say for the new generation, more and more competitive fencers will come up. That’s why freshmen will be more competitive.”
The foil squad for the men stood out with a 4-1 record, led by junior foil John Vaiani who went 8-2. Sophomore epee Justin Yoo found similar success with an 11-4 record.
“I would say men’s epee and men’s saber have a lot to work on,” the eighth-year coach said.
“Even though we only went 3-2 at this meet, I don’t think the results actually show the work we put in,” junior epee Zsombor Garzo added. “We fenced much better than a 3-2. I feel like it’s going to show for the Ivies.”
After the Philadelphia Invitational, Penn will travel to Notre Dame for the Northwestern Duals, the last meet before the Ivy League Championships on February 12 back in Philadelphia.
“The Ivy League is probably the most important competition for us,” Garzo said. “We don’t necessarily talk about it all the time. But it comes up quite often, everyone knows that’s the goal. ... That’s what we’re training for.”
“It’s a huge deal. Everyone talks about how intense it is and how high energy it is,” Ferdon added.
With only two more opportunities to fine tune their play before Ivies, the Quakers need to make the most out of every bout, starting at home this weekend.