The women’s fencing team defeated Dartmouth 17-10 on Saturday at Boston College in Northeast Conference competition to start off its spring semester season. Despite having strongly contested several more hard-fought matches that followed later in the day, the Dartmouth victory was the lone win for Tufts on Saturday.
Tufts was beaten 22-5 by a strong Brown team before falling to both Vassar and MIT by scores of 14-13. Brandeis and Boston College both pulled off 18-9 victories against Tufts to round out a tough day for the squad.
The Jumbos were led on Saturday by senior Laura Coughlin, who finished 3-0 against the Dartmouth Big Green in the foil. Sophomore Julia O’Gara and junior Juliet Hewes both went 2-0 in the foil against Dartmouth to lead their team to a strong win in the foil round, 7-2.
Senior tri-captain Alexandra Boden, sophomore Nayab Ajaz and sophomore Bridget Marturano all went 2-1 in their sabre matches to secure a 6-3 win in the sabre round against Dartmouth.
The Jumbos swallowed a tough loss at the hands of Vassar in the middle of the day, winning both the epee and sabre rounds — 5-4 and 6-3, respectively — but losing 7-2 in the foil, giving Vassar the higher total score by just a point.
The Jumbos’ next match saw a similarly frustrating result, as the team beat the MIT Engineers 6-3 in the foil but dropped the epee and sabre rounds by 5-4 and 6-3 margins, again losing the total point battle by only one point.
Despite the poor on-paper results from the rest of the day’s match-ups, the Jumbo fencers are pleased with their strong performance against the Dartmouth Big Green and admirable stands against other top programs.
“The meet went well,” said Boden, “It’s a really long day and each match is really different. We fenced really well against Dartmouth and then we started to face the Div. I schools who have pretty well-established fencing programs. It got more challenging as the day went along, but everyone really stepped up. Even though there were a lot of really close bouts, everyone was fencing really well which felt good.”
The team is staying optimistic, and remains unconcerned by its 1-5 record on the day. One fact from which the team can draw encouragement is that the Jumbos scored points in every round against every opponent on the day, including fencing powerhouse Brown.
“Even though we only beat Dartmouth, we had excellent energy throughout the day,” junior Anna Gooch said. “The scores do not reflect how well we fenced as a team.”
The team seems not to have had too much trouble returning from a long break; the team had not competed since Nov. 15.
“The break was great for the team,” said Gooch. “Everyone came back fresh, and we had a mini boot camp before classes started to help us get back into the swing of things, which was really helpful as well.”
“It is a little bit hard to say how the break affected the team,” Boden added, “It certainly upset the momentum of things a little bit but doing the camp a little early certainly helped everyone get back into the rhythm of it.”
Boden went on to note how the timing of the fencing season makes for an additional challenge.
“Our season is kind of awkward because of how it straddles both semesters,” Boden said. “In the fall we tend to focus more on conditioning and endurance, whereas everything post-break is technique-oriented.”
With the championship season approaching, the fencers are excited about how the season has gone so far.
“We have had a really strong season,” Boden said, “We had some turmoil earlier this year, but I think it has improved our team. I think we did a good job of laying the foundation for future years.”
Though it is difficult to consider Saturday’s meet a disaster given the array of opponents, with the New England Intercollegiate Fenching Championship (NEIFC) under a month away, the Jumbos will look to put up more wins in the next few weeks.
“Heading into the NEIFC and regionals, I think our biggest focus will be mentality and energy,” Gooch said. “We have all the technique and skill, we just have to remind ourselves of that and to keep focused throughout the day. It is important that we do not lose energy after each round”.
Tufts will compete against NYU on Jan. 31 at Brandeis, where it hopes to win the two teams’ first match-up in four years.