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Fencing impresses at Duke Invitational and the Beanpot

Published: February 17, 2012
Section: Sports


This past Saturday the men’s fencing team went 2-3 at the Duke Invitational, finishing in a tie for third place. The Judges defeated Johns Hopkins for the second week in a row, 17-10, while edging North Carolina 14-13 to avenge a loss from earlier in the season against the Tar Heels. Brandeis had hard-fought 15-12 losses to both Air Force and Duke while falling to top-ranked Penn State 19-8.

The match against Johns Hopkins, which came down to the final bout a week ago at the Eric Sollee Invitational at Brandeis University, was decided much more quickly this week. The Judges won in saber competition 7-2 and in foil competition 6-3 while just losing epee competition by a slim 5-4 margin. Jess Ochs-Willard ’15 went 3-0 in saber action while Adam Mandel ’15 finished 2-0. Juan Castillo ’14 and Noah Berman ’15 led the foil squad as they both won all three of their bouts, while Alex Powell ’12 finished 3-0 in epee action.

In their contest against the Tar Heels, who had previously defeated the Judges 17-10 on Dec. 2, all three weapons came down to the final bout with Brandeis emerging victorious in two of the three weapons to pull out the victory against coach Bill Shipman’s alma mater. In epee, the two teams split the first six bouts, before Mike Zook ’13 took a 3-2 decision to give Brandeis a 4-3 lead. After Harry Kaufer ’13 lost 5-4 in the next bout, Powell won the final and decisive bout 5-3 to win the epee competition for the Judges.

The saberists were also tied 3-3 after the first six bouts; however, Carolina took two of the next three bouts to win saber action. Foil competition was tied 3-3 as well through the first six bouts, but Berman and Ethan Levy ’15 won their bouts 5-3 and 5-2 respectively to get the win for the Judges.

In their close losses to Air Force and Duke, the Judges earned one weapon victory in each contest. Against the Falcons, Mandel and Ben Loft ’15 each went 2-1 while Ochs-Willard earned a point as well to give the saber squad a 5-4 victory. In their contest with the Blue Devils, both Cardillo and Berman won all of their bouts to lead the foil squad to a 7-2 win.
Three Judges posted winning records against Penn State with Kaufer, Zook and Mandel each going 2-1 to account for six of the Judges’ eight points.

A few days later, the Judges traveled to the Beanpot Tournament at Harvard where they finished in second place at 2-1. It was the second consecutive year that the Judges came in second place. The Judges defeated Boston College (BC), 15-12, and MIT, 18-9, while falling to third-ranked Harvard 22-5.

In the opening match against BC the Judges avenged the 16-11 from earlier in the season. The Judges took three out of two weapons, easily winning saber competition 7-2 and narrowly edging BC in foil competition 5-4, while the Eagles took epee action 6-3. Ochs-Willard had the Judges’ best record against the Eagles, winning all three of his bouts and only allowing one touch in his first two wins. Five other Judges went 2-1 against BC, including Mandel, Loft, Berman, Cardillo and Powell.
Against MIT, the Judges again won two out of three weapons. Saber won the first seven bouts in a row to earn a 7-2 victory led by a 3-0 mark from Mandel. Berman also went 3-0 to lead the foil squad to a 6-3 win. While Powell won all three of his bouts, it was not enough to gain an epee victory as the Engineers won 5-4.

In their contest with Harvard, Mandel, Ochs-Willard, Berman, Powell and Zook each registered points for the Judges.
Powell, Berman, Ochs-Willard and Mandel all finished with six wins in the tournament with Ochs-Willard going 6-2 and the others finishing 6-3.

Ochs-Willard commented, “The team has definitely improved since the beginning of the year. We’ve recently won against many of the teams we lost to at the start of the season.” He continued, “There is more support and camaraderie among the team now.” Five of the nine starters on the team are first-years but Ochs-Willard said, “while there are times where our inexperience has shown, every player has previous fencing experience.” Furthermore, according to Ochs-Willard, “Adam Mandel, Noah Berman and I each have a change to make the NCAA Tournament this year.”

On the womens side, the team struggled at the Duke Invitational going 1-4 with three of their four losses against nationally ranked teams. The Judges’ only victory was an 18-9 win against Air Force, while their four losses came against top-ranked Penn State 20-7, eighth-ranked Temple 18-9, 10th-ranked Duke 22-5 and North Carolina 14-13.
In their match against Air Force, the Judges won all three weapons. Leah Mack ’14 led the epee squad to a decisive 7-2 victory while going 3-0 in her three bouts, while Kristen Ha ’14 and Eliza Powell ’15 each finished 2-1. All three saberists, Emmily Smith ’13, Zoe Messinger ’13 and Eunice Ko ’14, went 2-1 in a 6-3 victory, while Vikki Nunley ’13 and Hallie Frank ’14 led the foilists to a 5-4 win.

The foil squad also picked up the Judges’ only other squad victory at the tournament, defeating UNC 7-2 as Nunley and Frank each went 3-0 while Jessie Kirshner ’15 picked up Brandeis’ other point in foil. Mack went 3-0 against the Tar Heels in epee action, but the epee squad ultimately fell 5-4. The saber squad failed to make any noise in their bouts as they were defeated 7-2 with Messinger picking up the squad’s only two points.

While the saberists failed to make any noise against the Tar Heels, they had Brandeis’ best performances against the three ranked teams at the tournament. Messinger went 3-0 against Temple in a close 5-4 loss. Nunley also finished 3-0 against Temple in foil action. Nunley also posted two of the team’s seven points against Penn State and was the Judges’ only multiple-point winner, but no fencer managed to post multiple points against the Blue Devils.

For the tournament, Nunley went 11-3 in foil competition while Mack and Messinger finished 9-6 in epee and saber action respectively.

At the Beanpot Tournament, the Judges struggled at the Beanpot going 0-3 as they failed to win a single match. Their closest match was against MIT where they lost 16-11. They also fell to Boston College 19-8 and to seventh-ranked Harvard 24-3.
The Judges only had two weapon wins at the tournament. Nunley and Kirshner each went 2-1 to help lead the foil squad past BC 5-4 as Frank won the final bout 3-1 to earn the decisive point.

Against MIT, Ha and Mack went 2-1 while Powell secured the final point with a 5-3 win in the last bout to earn a 5-4 win. Mack and Ha posted the only three points the Judges’ scored against Harvard.

Both teams will return to action Feb. 25 when they travel to Vassar College for the New England Collegiate Championship.