November 19, 2009

Bulldogs Geared Up to Fence

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale fencers will kick off their season on Nov. 21 at the Penn State Open. The Open, a two-day event, is an individual event that serves as a warm up for the regular season that begins after winter break.

Team Captain Rebecca Moss and fellow senior Jennifer Ivers are eagerly awaiting this first test for Yale fencers. Ivers commented, “I am really excited about this season. My friends are always astounded when I tell them that I'm not upset about missing the Yale-Harvard football game because going to Penn State with the team is so much fun.”

And this seems to be the mood among the women’s fencing team as it prepares for the 2009-10 season. The goals are set high, and the mood is upbeat.

Captain Moss described her team’s goals for the year: “We have an exciting season in front of us.  Some of our goals as a team include beating our already impressive 10th place finish at NCAA Nationals last year, placing in the top three in the Ivy League, while continuing to build on our friendships and cohe siveness as a group.”

She and Ivers are joined by Katherine Arden, Andrea Feuer, Farrah Kimovec and Kristin Saetveit as the team’s seniors.

Five dedicated freshman have joined the team this year including Madeline Buxton (epee), Zoe Egelman (foil), Sari Levy (epee), Madeline Oliver (sabre) and Robyn Shaffer (epee).

Ivers noted, “I'm also impressed at how willing the freshmen have already been to step up and contribute as much as possible. This is the second year in a row that freshmen girls have set an example for the rest of the team in terms of dedication and commitment.”

“I'm really excited to see how Egelman and Shaffer perform this season,” added Moss on two of the freshmen. She also noted, “The energetic and experienced Oliver has already proved to be an excellent addition to our sabre squad. Buxton claimed the Dernell Every women's epee champion title last Saturday at our competition with alumni.  Due to a scheduling conflict, she will be unable to compete at Penn State next week.”

 Luckily she will be back for subsequent competitions. “I expect she will add great depth to our epee squad. She is extremely dedicated and on strip, she executes a strategic game with telling results,” said Moss.

The Brandeis Invitational is also before the Bulldogs break for the winter. It will be held on Dec. 5 and will kick off four months of competition for Yale fencers.

The team appears strong this year as the Bulldogs prep for their first contest. The foil squad has the least number of girls but on the bright side, sophomore Katharine Pitt who seized an outstanding Second Team All American title at last year’s NCAAs will be returning to lead the group.

“The other foil sophomore and starter, Jillian Liu, is so fiery and compact our coach has been nicknamed her "pistol",” said Moss. 

Sabre may prove to be the standout squad.  With three experienced seniors returning including Arden, Ivers and Kimovec along with the addition of Oliver, this squad will be a powerful force.

For epee Moss pointed to junior Tasha Garcia and said she “has come a long way in her last two years on the fencing team.  She has developed an effective strategy and confidence that work very well with her stature and the nature of epee.  Because she is so tall and quick, with a steady hand, she is able to strike her opponents just when they step in slightly too close.”

Ivers pointed out freshman Sari Levy for epee. Although she is currently battling an injury, she is “one of the most experienced freshmen and she will definitely contribute to making women's epee our deepest squad.”

After break, the Bulldogs host their first home event, a dual meet against Vassar on Jan. 18. The meet will take place on the seventh-floor fencing salon at Payne Whitney Gym.  Yale then heads to the NYU Invitational in New York City on Jan. 23. The Bulldogs are back at home the following weekend for two dual meets, against Sacred Heart University and Drew University. The meets will take place on Jan. 30, also in the fencing salon at Payne Whitney.

Feb. 12 kicks off four days of Junior Olympic competition in Memphis, Tenn. Only athletes young enough to qualify (under 19) will attend this individual competition. The Ivy League championship is then decided over two weekends, on Feb. 21 and 28.

On the Ivy competition, Moss noted:

“The Ivy League has always proven a difficult competition for us.  Throughout my time at Yale, we have suffered some really close defeats along with one stunning and nail biting worthy victory against Princeton.  To try to ensure we will come on top in desperate situations, we have incorporated more strategic and mental training into our bouting and drilling time.”

The Bulldogs will head to Ivy North at Cornell and Ivy South at Penn in pursuit of an Ivy title. 

From there, select Yale fencers will head to NCAA Northeast Regionals on Mar. 14. Fencers wrap up their season on Mar. 25-26 at the NCAA Championships.

“To reach our goal for NCAA finals, we hope to qualify the maximum number of girls meaning six compared to last year’s entry of three,” commented Moss. The road there will be a long one, and will take the team through a total of 10 competitions. But with confidence and determination, the women’s fencing team will no doubt be making waves this season. 

Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity