Women’s Fencing | Jumbos compete against top teams in country at Northwestern Duals meet

The women’s fencing team competed in the Northwestern Duals meet on Feb. 1 and 2, winning five matches and losing seven. The Jumbos faced the No. 8 Temple, No. 9 Northwestern and No. 1 Princeton – three teams ranked in the national top 10 and some of the stiffest competition they’ve seen all year. However, playing against the top fencers in the country served as valuable preparation for the team’s upcoming Northeast Conference matches.

“It was a great experience for all the girls,” senior co-captain Shelby Bean said. “[It was] definitely the best I’ve seen us play as a team, both in the wins and the losses.”

After a successful first day of competition, the team had more good bouts the following Sunday, despite starting the day in defeat to a talented Stanford squad. But as was the case on the first day of the event, facing tough competition early helped prepare the Jumbos for the rest of the day.

In their next match, Tufts beat the University of Detroit-Mercy, winning 21-6 behind contributions from every class. Sabre won 8-1, epee won 6-3 and foil put in their best performance of the weekend, winning 7-2.

After a hard fought loss to North Carolina, a top Div. I school, Tufts went on to win its last two matches against Caltech and Cleveland State, 20-7 and 22-5, respectively, to end the weekend on a high note.

The previous day, the Jumbos were able to shake off an early loss to bounce back and win some key games later in the day.

Their first match of the weekend was against Temple, which Tufts lost 19-8 despite their best efforts. While the final results of the match were disappointing, the hard-fought manner in which it was played set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

“I thought we had some great bouts against Temple, even though we lost,” Bean said. “The big thing in fencing is never giving in, and I thought everyone competed well to the end.”

Tufts bounced back to win its next two matches, beating Lawrence 18-9 and Farleigh Dickinson 15-12. Both victories were marked by strong performances in the sabre class, with the group going 8-1 against Lawrence and 7-2 against Farleigh Dickinson. Senior co-captain Julia Hisey and sophomore Alexandra Boden were standouts in these matches, winning 10 of their 11 bouts. Bean also contributed, winning twice against Lawrence and once against Farleigh Dickinson.

“Playing against the top teams, you really have to think and strategize,” Hisey said. “I think playing in those matches helps a lot when we play the teams more at our level.”

     The epee class also competed well, going 5-4 and 7-2 in the two victories. Sophomore Julia Malleck was the star for her class, winning twice against Lawrence and three times against Farleigh Dickinson.

Despite struggling as a whole, the foil class got a key win against Farleigh Dickinson from senior Mailin Li, which helped guide Tufts to victory. Li also delivered a solid performance against Lawrence, winning all three of her bouts.

For the rest of the day, the Jumbos struggled to win the decisive bouts, falling in close matches to Duke and UC San Diego, 16-11 and 14-13, respectively. Sabre once again played well, winning eight of nine against the Blue Devils and going 5-4 against the Tritons.

“We’ve had our strongest season since I’ve been here [in sabre],” Bean said. “It’s been fun, consistently beating Div. I teams.”

The foil class delivered their best performance of the day against Northwestern, going 5-4 against the nationally-ranked squad. Freshman Juliet Hewes won all three of her bouts, while Li won two out of three. Unfortunately for the Jumbos, the sabre and epee classes could not match their early successes, losing 6-3 and 8-1, respectively, as Tufts fell to the host team 18-9.

The one other match of the day came against top ranked Princeton, who handed the Jumbos a lopsided 24-3 defeat. Instead of focusing on the loss, however, Bean and Hisey encouraged the team to feel good about its positive performances, which included individual wins from Hewes, Malleck and freshman Anna Gooch.

“[Princeton] was really tough, but we had some good tactical touches, which is what we’re looking for,” Hisey said. “Fencing badly and winning doesn’t feel as good as fencing well and losing, and I thought we fenced really well against Princeton.”

Their late surge seemed to carry over into this weekend’s Northeast Conference matches, of which Tufts won five and lost one. The results of the matches were not posted at press time.

With only the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference championships remaining, the team is feeling good about themselves as they enter their season’s final phase.

“We’ve always been one of the top schools in the NFC,” Hisey said. “We’re ranked fourth, and we’ve beaten two of the teams ranked higher than us, so we’re feeling very confident.”