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Fencing looks forward to a promising year

Published: November 14, 2014
Section: Sports


The men’s and women’s fencing teams kicked off their season on Saturday, Nov. 1 with their first tournament, the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference Fall Invitational. The Brandeis men’s team took home one gold, two silver and two bronze medals, while Captain Caroline Mattos ’16 took home the only medal for the women’s side, a silver in women’s foil. With six medals to bring back, the Judges were happy with their performance.

“The first tournament is a test of our individual strengths, and we had a lot of success,” said men’s captain Jess Ochs-Willard ’15. With the team off to such a good start, the Judges hope to build momentum.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have high expectations for the Brandeis fencing program this season. Mattos reported good things for the women’s team, saying that “the women’s team has stepped up this year…I think this year our team has more drive to remain the top Division Three school.” After a transitional year last year for the women’s team (with eight sophomores and five first-years) the young team had trouble competing against fencers with more experience. However, “with another year under our belts, we have definitely gained much experience and continue to grow. I believe that his will be our best season yet” said Mattos. With a more experienced team this year Mattos knows that although there are things to work on, she isn’t worried.

Mattos said the team hopes to qualify as many fencers as possible to earn a spot in the NCAA’s as well as win New England’s. “I’m more interested in helping my teammates reach performance goals. I want to see all of them increase their level of fencing, whether it be through footwork or point control, because this is more beneficial in the long run,” said Mattos. The team looks for little victories and improvements every time, hoping “to medal in every competition,” said rookie epeeist Shayna Lyandvert ’18.

“We need to bring the same underdog mentality as last year. We need to practice hard and smart…We’ve added some talented freshmen this year, and they’re going to be invaluable not only in meets, but in helping the returning fencers stay in form,” Ochs-Willard said. The team now looks to use its potential to the fullest in order to send as many fencers as possible to the NCAAs this year. However, for the men’s team, there are some major matches that have to be won before they can get to NCAAs.

“Our team goals include beating Duke and winning our conference,” stated epeeist Hunter Stusnick ’18. Ochs-Willard also cited Sacred Heart, Yale and Brown as important teams to beat this year. The team members know that they must support each other to beat these teams, and push each other hard in practice.

“The team looks strong and cohesive. Everyone is very supportive and does a great job motivating each other to work hard and improve. We have the tools to make for an impressive season,” said epeeist Matthew Schattner ’18. The men’s team is looking to the future, and it seems bright.

“All of our starters have the potential to qualify if they work hard,” said Ochs-Willard. Schattner added that the team’s goals include being, “the best team in the conference” as well. Last year’s team qualified three fencers, all of whom will return for this year’s season.

Both teams will take part in the Northeast Conference Meet at MIT this Saturday, Nov. 15 against Boston University, MIT, Sacred Heart and the University of New Hampshire.