Penn men’s and women’s fencing were looking to gain some momentum this weekend, and that’s just what they got.
At the Temple Invitational on Sunday, both the men’s and women’s squads finished the competition with a winning record. The Temple Invitational is a key point in the fencing season as it is the last match play before NCAA regionals. Gaining momentum going into the final stretch of the season is crucial, and both the women’s and men’s teams left the invitation with some impressive wins.
No. 4 Penn women’s fencing went 3-2 on the day, beating Saint John’s, Brown and No. 1 Princeton. The win over Brown was particularly impressive, as Penn won 25 of the 27 matches and went 9-0 in both foil and sabre. However, this was not the win that impressed coach Andy Ma the most.
“Beating Princeton’s women’s team was huge because they are the number one girls team in the country,” Ma said.
The team’s two losses came at the hands of No. 5 Penn State and No. 7 Temple. Both teams are highly skilled, as evidence by their national rankings, but there were also other circumstances at hand that contributed to Penn’s two losses.
“We just finished the Ivy League schedule a couple weeks ago so most of the kids are exhausted,” Ma explained. “And they have several midterms so we let them rest most of last week.”
On the other hand, the team was able to step up to the challenge of not having freshman foil Nicole Vaiani, who had a fever and was unable to participate. The rest of the foils all stepped up to help the team in her absence.
No. 5 Penn men’s fencing fared slightly better on Sunday, finishing with a record of 4-1. In doing so they defeated No. 6 Princeton, No. 7 St. John’s, Brown and Stevens. Though things ended up going very well on Sunday, the team got off to a rocky start, losing to No. 3 Penn State in their opening match.
“The coaches talked to the fencers a little bit after that Penn State match,” Ma said. “We tried not to put too much pressure on the kids because they were tired following the match, but we wanted to see if they could step up their performances for the rest of the day.”
To the team’s credit, they definitely stepped up after the first match. The men’s foilers were particularly impressive, finishing with a winning record in each of the last four matches.
While the rest of the student body prepares for spring break, Penn’s fencers will be preparing for NCAA regionals on March 11.
“Tomorrow will be an off day, but Tuesday through Friday we will be back to normal training,” Ma said of the upcoming practice schedule. “They will also be coming back early from spring break to train as regionals approach.”
Preparing for regionals will be different than what the team has went through so far this season. Practices in the upcoming weeks will focus on the individual format of regionals, as the teams have been participating in team-oriented events all season long. Both teams will be hoping to keep that season alive with strong performances in regionals.