February 24, 2004

Fencers Fall to Ivy Champion Penn, No. 2 Columbia

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The Red saved its best for last, as it wrapped up its regular season against the best in the nation.

Penn State, the No. 1 team in the country, was one of four teams the Red faced on Sunday. Columbia and Penn, tied for first place in the Ivy League with identical undefeated records coming into the weekend, and Temple made up the rest of the field.

The Red faced off against Temple to start the day. The epee squad led the way for Cornell, winning by a 6-3 margin. Sophomore standout Meghan Phair broke out of a recent slump and went 3-0. Freshman Shannon Flatley won the only bout in foil for the Red, while freshman Ivana Zgaljic and senior Lily Nierenberg posted two wins each in the saber category. However, these individual efforts were not enough to pull out a team win, as the Red fell to Temple, 16-11.

Next up for Cornell was perennial Ivy League powerhouse Columbia. The Red managed to steal some individual victories, but Columbia trounced the Red, winning 23-4.

Penn just barely pulled out a victory over Columbia, winning by a final score of 14-13. In Cornell’s third contest of the day, only the Red stood between Penn and an Ivy League title.

“We fenced very well, taking each bout to the limit,” head coach Al Peters said.

But the Red couldn’t stop the Quakers, who fought to a 21-6 victory and walked away with an Ivy League championship. This was the first championship for Penn since 1995, and its ninth Ivy crown overall.

“All it does is reinforce our motivation to improve [next year],” Peters said of the losses.

After three tough matches, the Red still had to face Penn State, the top-ranked team in the country. Cornell put on an impressive show, winning two bouts in the saber category. The Red’s epee squad pulled off an upset, beating Penn State 7-2 in this category. Phair and freshman Alexa Rose were both undefeated in this match-up and senior captain Erica Wilhelm scored an individual victory to wrap-up a long day.

“There were so many close bouts,” Peters said. “Of course, we want a lot more victories. But even though the matches weren’t close, individual bouts were.”

Next weekend, Cornell travels to Vassar College for the Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championships.

Archived article by Olivia Dwyer