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Bulldogs Win Two at First Day of Ivy Championships

Alexander Cohen. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Alexander Cohen. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

ITHACA, N.Y. – The Yale men’s fencing team finished up the first day of the Ivy League Championships with a 2-2 record. Today’s dual meets were part of the first half of competition, hosted by Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y. As the only team to fence against four opponents, the Yale had a full schedule, fencing against Columbia, Harvard, Pennsylvania and Princeton. The Bulldogs came away with wins against Columbia and Pennsylvania, while losing two heartbreakers against Harvard and Princeton.

At last year’s Ivy Championships, Yale finished tied for fourth place with a 1-4 record. The Bulldogs’ sole victory came against Harvard in the first day of competition, and they finished behind Pennsylvania, Columbia and Princeton, tied with Harvard and Brown.

This year, Yale brought an improved team and serious title aspirations to the Ivy Championships. In line with these aspirations, the Bulldogs kicked off the day at 11 a.m. with a decisive 18-9 victory against Columbia. Leading the way, as expected, was the Yale foil squad. Junior Nathaniel Botwinick, senior John Gurrieri, and freshman Jonathan Holbrook posted a 9-0 record, allowing only three touches scored against them overall.

Last season, Columbia defeated the Bulldogs 17-10 while compiling a 4-1 record to finished second in the league.

“Beating Columbia was a great start to the day,” said captain Andrew Holbrook. “The foil team led the way, as the other squads worked hard for every bout.”

Columbia was ranked eighth in the February 18th USFCA National Coaches Poll. Of the Bulldogs’ other three opponents on the day, Princeton was ranked fourth, Harvard was ranked sixth, and Pennsylvania was ranked seventh. Yale had been ranked ninth in the previous poll, but fell out of the top ten this time around.

Following the victory against Columbia, the Bulldogs fenced a tough match against Harvard, losing by a final score of 16-11. The foil squad won five of nine and the saber squad won four of nine to keep it close. However, the Harvard epee squad proved too strong, winning seven of nine from Yale for the victory. However, the match was even closer than the overall score indicates, as the Bulldogs lost five bouts by a one-touch margin.

“Losing to Harvard was a disappointment,” said Holbrook. “It was frustrating to lose so many bouts by only a touch, but we definitely used it to focus better in the next round.”

In the third round, the Bulldogs faced off against Pennsylvania, who had defeated them 22-5 en route to an Ivy League title last year. This year, Yale took the match by a final score of 17-10.

“Beating Penn was a great feeling,” said Holbrook, “especially after last year's loss. The team came out strong and this was a great job from every squad.”

Earlier in the day, during round one of the competition, no. 7 Pennsylvania had beaten no. 6 Harvard by a score of 15-12. Yale’s strong win over Penn in round three made the earlier loss to Harvard even tougher.

The Bulldogs finished their long day of competition against no. 4 Princeton. In the most evenly split match of the day, the Elis lost a heartbreaker by a final score of 14-13. The saber squad came through in a big way for Yale, winning seven of nine bouts. Freshman Colin Mills was particularly impressive, winning all three of his bouts. The powerful Princeton epee squad made up the difference by winning seven of their nine bouts. Princeton then slipped by Yale’s strong foil squad, winning five of nine bouts. Though sophomore Shiv Kachru put together an impressive 3-0 record in the match, the Elis were not able to take advantage. Particularly difficult to swallow was the fact that Botwinick turned in a great performance but lost two bouts by just one touch.

“Against Princeton, we traded bouts until the very end,” said Holbrook. “We put forth a phenomenal effort and the saber team really stepped up for a 7-2 bout score. The team as a whole did everything it could, but came up short. It was a definite disappointment, however there are few times when you can say a team did everything possible and this is one of them.”

Yale definitely left everything on the fencing strip, and came away with a 2-2 record. Though the Bulldogs felt like they could have done a bit better, they are in a decent position going into next weekend’s competition. During the second half of the Ivy Championships, Yale has only Brown to fence.

“Are we disappointed in the day's final outcome?” asked Holbrook. “Definitely. However, this team has come a phenomenal way since last season. We are all proud of our performance and looking forward to fencing Brown next weekend. The Ivy League is not over yet and we are going to come out strong and prove ourselves in our final Ivy League meet.”

Yale will fence Brown in the second and final day of Ivy competition on Sunday, Feb. 28 in Philadelphia, P.A.



Report by Arsi Sefaj '11, Yale Sports Publicity