Penn men's and women's fencing continued their dominance at Brandeis’s Eric Sollee Invitational this past Saturday, recording the best combined score of the tournament. The women’s team was victorious against every participating school, returning to Philadelphia with a 6-0 win and an average lead of 12.6 points. The men’s team also found success in Massachusetts, only losing to NYU in a tight 14-13 match.
The women’s foil team and the men’s sabre team were crucial in the Quakers’ impressive showing. Although Hunter College allowed the team to go uncontested due to a lack of sabre athletes, the men’s sabre squad was able to snag a 6-0 record by the end of the tournament. Underclassmen were the stars of this weapon class, as freshman Raymond Zhao won all but one of his matches and sophomore Xiteng Lin swept his matches against MIT, Boston College, and NJIT. Similarly, the women’s foil team was led by freshmen Julia Thompson and Grace Hao, who collectively won 17 of their 20 matches. Hao was particularly admirable in her undefeated streak against NYU, helping to secure the team’s final win of the day.
A highlight of the invitational was senior Danielle Ferdon, whose remarkable 17 wins proved to be a game changer for the women’s team. Not only did she play against every opponent school, but she engaged in three bouts every time, the most a fencer is allowed in a tournament. These matches hold a personal significance for Ferdon as well; she had her 150th collegiate win in her very first bout of the day against MIT.
One persistent challenge for both Penn teams was the NYU fencers, who broke numerous individual and team streaks in the few concluding bouts of the tournament. Not only did NYU hand the men’s team its only loss, but top Penn athletes seemed to struggle with several of their competitors. Lin and Ferdon could not achieve a blowout record because of their single losses to the NYU team, and Thompson and Zhao suffered two uncharacteristic losses against the Bobcats.
Considering the much-anticipated Ivy Championships are only a few days away, this impressive performance could be an important litmus test. In particular, dual victories against Boston College, ranked No. 1 in the its conference, are a reassuring sign for the teams this weekend.
The Sollee Invitational was a good opportunity for the Penn teams to gain some much-needed confidence before the Ivy Championships at Harvard on Feb. 8 and 9. While they can always iron out a few issues before the weekend, the Red and Blue are in a promising position to bring home some major Ivy wins.