After three weeks of practice, the fencing team is ready to take on perennial Ivy League powerhouse Harvard in the Stifel Fencing Salle this Sunday.
“They are the strongest team in the Ivy League,” said head coach Al Peters. “We have improved, but so have they.”
The Red’s last competition was the Temple Open on Nov. 1. The team had unprecedented success. Sophomore Meghan Phair won the epee event to become the first Cornell champion in 26 years.
In the weeks since then, the Red has focused on improving team fitness. Athletes have also been doing technical and tactical drills to prepare.
“Our team is fit, strong, and looking to compete,” Peters said.
Cornell has come closer and closer to beating Harvard over the past few years. Epee senior captain Erica Wilhelm remembered losing badly two years ago, but also recalled that the contest last year was evenly matched.
“I’m feeling optimistic,” she said about this weekend.
The long break has brought out the nerves on the team. With the vast youth and inexperience of the squad, athletes have become anxious as the weekend approaches.
“We have a highly motivated team,” Peters said. “We need to get them to relax.”
However, he expects the team to rise to the occasion for its Ivy League and season opener.
“It’s important in terms of pride and getting experience,” he said of Sunday’s match.
Competition against Harvard will begin at 10 a.m.
The Red will also face Sacred Heart, with a second round of matches starting at 1:00 pm.
“[Sacred Heart will] prepare us for later in the season,” Peters said.
The corps of experienced veterans, including All-American Phair, will lead the Red into competition on Sunday.
When asked about the team’s goals for this weekend, Wilhelm had a simple answer” “To win.”
“Everyone’s been working really hard, and that’s the basic goal,” she said.
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer