Yale to Fence First Three Ivy Opponents

Feb. 6, 2009

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Columbia, Brown and Harvard will clash swords with Yale for the first of a two-part competition to determine the 2009 Ivy League Champion. The competition, hosted by Columbia in New York, N.Y., will be an opportunity for the Bulldogs to improve on last year's 1-4 Ivy record. At last year's Ivy Championships, Yale had two fencers recognized as First-Team All-Ivy fencers: captain Michael Pearce (epee) and John Gurrieri (foil).

"We look to improve on this (both the number of All-Ivy fencers from Yale and our record) over the course of the two Ivy tournaments," noted Pearce.

The Bulldogs stand at 10-3 after taking care of Sacred Heart and Drew by identical 15-12 scores Saturday in New Haven. Yale swept Boston College, Brandeis, St. John's and MIT at the Brandeis Invitational Dec. 7 to begin its 2008-09 dual season, and followed that up with a pair of wins against Vassar and Detroit Jan. 17. At the NYU Invitational Jan. 25, the Bulldogs defeated Steven's Tech and Wayne State, but fell to NYU, Notre Dame and Ohio State.

Yale will fence Columbia at 11 a.m. The Lions completed their regular season with a 2-6 score in dual play. Columbia's fencers captured wins over Wayne State and Steven's Tech by identical 18-9 scores at the NYU Invitational. Ohio State, Notre Dame and St. John's defeated the Lions at both the St. John's Invitational and at NYU for the team's six losses on the year.

At last year's Ivy Championships, the Bulldogs lost to perennial powerhouse Columbia, 22-5. The foil squad presented the biggest challenge to the Lions but was ultimately defeated, 6-2. Columbia claimed the Ivy League title.

"This will be a difficult day. Columbia is the strongest team in the league by far. We will have to be firing on all cylinders from the get-go but I believe we will be able to bring the fight to them," commented Pearce.

At 1 p.m., Yale will fence Brown. Most recently, at the NFC competition, Brown defeated Boston College 14-13 and MIT 17-10. Yale has beaten both opponents this season (16-11, 15-12).

In last year's defeat of Brown (18-9), the Bulldogs' epee and sabre squads both won. The epee squad of then-junior Pearce (3-0), senior Gabe Billings (3-0) and senior captain Steve Miller (2-1) posted an 8-1 victory. The sabre squad nailed down a 6-3 win, with then-freshman Stephen Watty registering three victories. The Yale foil squad lost, 5-4. Then-sophomore John Gurrieri did, however, win all three of his bouts.

The Bulldogs will close the day with a 2:45 p.m. bout against Harvard (8-5). The Crimson opened the season with four-straight wins, against Sacred Heart, (17-10), MIT (15-12), Boston College (20-7) and Brandeis (16-11). At the St. John's Invitational, Harvard lost to Ohio State and St. John's by scores of 17-10 and 14-13, respectively. Yale fell to Ohio State as well, but beat St. John's 15-12. The stage has been set for competitive Yale-Harvard clash on Sunday.

Harvard defeated the Bulldogs at last year's Championships, 18-9. Yale's foil squad again came through with a victory, fencing to a closely fought 5-4 win. The Eli sabre and epee squads lost by matching 7-2 tallies. Pearce was able to register two wins.

Tentative Squads for this meet are as follow:

Epee
Michael Pearce - First-Team All-Ivy last year (10-2), 13th at NCAAs last year
Alexander Cohen - Freshman
Thomas Bell - First Ivy appearance as a starter

Foil
Andrew Holbrook
Nathaniel Botwinick - 18th at NCAAs last year
John Gurrieri - First-Team All-Ivy last year (11-4), 13th at NCAAs last year
Shiv Kachru - Freshman

Sabre
Jonathan Holbrook - Freshman
Adam Fields - Freshman
Sebastian Cano-Besquet
Stephen Watty

Yale will fence the remaining Ivy teams, Pennsylvania and Princeton, on Feb. 22 in Providence, R.I.

Report filed by Dominique Fenton '10, Yale Sports Publicity

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