The Jumbos’ 2017-2018 season continued with the Northeast Fencing Conference Multi-Meet at Boston College on Sunday. Tufts fencers competed against opponents from six other teams: Dartmouth, Vassar, Brandeis, MIT, Boston College and Brown. After opening the day with a victory over the Big Green, the Jumbos fell short against their other opponents.
Tufts began its day by beating Dartmouth, 15–12. The Jumbos dominated the Big Green in the foil, winning seven of the nine matches. After senior co-captain Julia O’Gara dropped her opening bout to Dartmouth junior Ellie Ng, Tufts won seven of its next eight foil bouts, including impressive 3–0 showings by junior Zoe Howard and first-year Georgia Kollias.
Tufts also beat Dartmouth in the épée events, 5–4, despite not taking the lead until the ninth and final bout. In a tense matchup between two fighters who started the day 2–0, Tufts junior Annie Ayala eked out a win against Dartmouth junior Jennifer Wu, recording five touches to the latter’s four.
Sophomore Wendi Zheng described how her fellow épéeists — Ayala and sophomore Brie Gates — steeled themselves after Zheng’s loss in the seventh bout put the Jumbos on the brink of defeat.
“Even though I lost the first match [of the third series of épée bouts], my teammates were not discouraged by the loss,” Zheng said. “Brianna came in and dominated her opponent [in] a 5–1 win with some perfect swing hits. Annie then stepped onto the court with more confidence to nail down the series.”
Though the Big Green won 6–3 in the sabre, the lead the Jumbos had established in the first two weapons was too great, allowing them to claim victory in the first matchup of the day.
Tufts’ following meet was against Vassar, and the outcome eerily mirrored what transpired against Dartmouth. The Brewers barreled through the Jumbos in the foil, winning 7–2. Though the Jumbos edged out another 5–4 nail biter in épée and claimed a 6–3 win in the sabre, the Brewers’ massive foil advantage allowed Vassar to claim a tight 14–13 win over Tufts. Senior Bridget Marturano shone in the sabre, winning all three of her matches.
Brandeis beat Tufts 16–11 in round three at Boston College. Eight of Tufts’ 11 victories came in the sabre, including 3–0 sweeps by Marturano and sophomore Lucy Pavlovich. Though not shocked by Tufts’ dominance in sabre, Marturano expressed her happiness for Pavlovich.
“The 8–1 win against Brandeis for the sabre squad wasn’t surprising,” Marturano said. “One of Brandeis’ stronger fencers graduated last year, and their squad wasn’t as strong this year. That said, I was extremely proud of Pavlovich and her 3–0 sweep. She fenced really well on Sunday, and it was great to see one of the younger members of the squad dominating on the strip.”
The Jumbos otherwise struggled against the Judges, including a 9–0 gaveling in the épée. Tufts also lost six of its first seven foil bouts against Brandeis.
Against MIT, Tufts sung again in the sabre. Marturano won all three of her bouts, while Pavlovich claimed two of her own. Once more, however, the Jumbos’ shortcomings in épée doomed their efforts, as they won only a single bout against MIT’s épéeists. The Tufts foilists, meanwhile, came back from 2–0 and 4–2 deficits to even the score, before dropping the final bout.
The losses to Boston College and Brown were both by significantly larger margins (21–6 and 23–4, respectively) than the aforementioned matches. Tufts’ épéeists struggled, in particular, winning just one of their final 18 bouts against the Eagles and Bears.
Marturano kept the team’s defeats in perspective.
“I’m not super disappointed with our loss[es]. We had several people graduate last year, and we didn’t recruit anyone to replace them,” she said. “Some of our épée squad is definitely less experienced than most of the schools we faced on Sunday, but they also really stepped up and put up a strong fight despite the difference in experience.”
The Malvern, Pa. native also pointed out one way that the team can improve.
“I think it’s important that we fence outside of practice,” Marturano said. “I go to Boston Fencing Club and sometimes take teammates with me. This way, we can practice against more than the same three [or] four people and get more experience fencing tough opponents.”
The Jumbos’ next meet will be at the Smith College Multi-Meet on Feb. 10 in Northampton, Mass.