The Tufts women’s fencing team faced a packed schedule over the weekend. The Jumbos competed in back-to-back tournaments on Saturday and Sunday. A day after competing at the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference (NEIFC) Championships at Mount Holyoke College, the Jumbos traveled to the Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) Invitational in Hackensack, N.J., where they competed against six other schools. Tufts won three of its six matches, recording victories against Long Island University (LIU)-Post, Queens College and Hunter College.
On Sunday, Tufts started out strong against LIU-Post, winning the match 16–11. Tufts dominated the foil competition, winning 8–1, as the LIU foil squad only fielded one competitor. The Jumbos’ sabre squad also out-performed its opponents, winning by a 5–4 decision, but the épée team suffered a 6–3 loss. Sophomore épéeist Brie Gates, who suffered an ankle injury at the Northeast Fencing Conference Multi-Meet on Feb. 10, competed against the Pioneers, although she fell in both of her contested bouts.
In Tufts’ second match of the day, against host Fairleigh Dickinson, Tufts fell by just one point (14–13). Tufts lost in both the foil and épée competitions, 6–3, and a 7–2 victory by the sabre squad wasn’t enough to cover the deficit. The FDU team also experienced a player shortage, competing in the épée and sabre rounds with only two fencers. Tufts senior sabre fencer Nayab Ajaz led the Jumbos by winning a pair of bouts and claiming a forfeit.
Tufts was able to rebound following the loss, claiming a pair of dominant victories against Queens College (23–4) and Hunter College (23–4). In the match against Queens College, Tufts won in foil and sabre by matching 8–1 scorelines, also claiming the épée competitions, 7–2. The foil bouts saw junior Zoe Howard and first-year Georgia Kollias each sweep their opponents. In the sabre round, Ajaz and sophomore Lucy Pavlovich both recorded unblemished 3–0 records. Gates also competed in the match, defeating two opponents and claiming a forfeit victory in the épée competition.
Against Hunter College, Tufts posted a 9–0 sweep in foil, as well as a pair of 7–2 victories in sabre and épée. Hunter competed with only one fencer in sabre, forfeiting six of the nine bouts. Junior Phoebe Yang won all three of her bouts in épée.
In the final two matches of the day, against Stevens College and Drew College, Tufts fell short. The latter was the only team to defeat Tufts in all three weapons (6–3 in foil, 8–1 in épée, 5–4 in sabre) at the FDU Invitational. Senior Bridget Marturano provided a sole bright spot with two wins in the sabre competition.
While the team split its results, coach David Sach said the true focus of the Invitational was to build on individual performances with an eye toward larger competitions.
“We used FDU to up individuals’ win percentages for the season and to make sure that we qualified as many people as possible to NCAA Regionals on March 10th at Brandeis,” Sach said. “The back-to-back schedule did make the team a little bit tired in FDU, but I was really happy about their performance, especially when Phoebe Yang switched to épée to help the team out and did tremendously well.”
The previous day, Tufts traveled to Mount Holyoke to compete in the NEIFC Championships. The Jumbos ultimately finished seventh of the 14 schools schools that competed at the tournament. Sabre was the most successful weapon for Tufts, as the team tied Vassar and Sacred Heart for first place in the competition, each with 27 wins. However, Vassar led Tufts in total net touches (71–63) to claim victory in the sabre. In the foil, 24 victories earned Tufts fourth place behind MIT, Wellesley and Smith. Finally, the Jumbos’ épée squad took 10th place with 12 wins.
As for individual results, Marturano finished tied for third place in sabre, while Ajaz finished in seventh place. Marturano reached the elimination bracket on the strength of her performance in the pool rounds, where she won four of five matches. Ajaz finished fourth in her pool to make it into the eight-player elimination round. The Cambridge, Mass. native was eliminated in the first round by Smith’s Elysia Wang. Marturano won 15–12 in the first round against Wellesley first-year Lauren Park before falling to Wang in the second round.
“I knew going into the bout that it was going to be tough,” Marturano said. “Elysia Wang is a good fencer with a lot of experience. I had beaten her earlier in the day, 5–3, and after my quarterfinal bout against Lauren Park, I felt confident. I felt collected and focused during the bout, and even though it had been a long day, I pushed myself as hard as I could to work for each touch. In the end, Elysia out-fenced me but I’m not disappointed about the loss at all. It was a great bout, and even though I didn’t win, I definitely walked away happy with how I fenced.”
The Jumbos look to close their season on a high note at the upcoming NCAA Regional at Brandeis.