The Cornell women’s fencing team began its season on a modest note this past weekend, winning 3-of-7 matches, which leaves the Red with a 3-4 record overall. After a difficult first day, which saw the Red go 1-3 on Saturday, Cornell was able to rebound with a strong finish on Sunday, going 2-1 on the final day.
The Philadelphia Invitational Multi-Meet, held in Philadelphia, Penn., was hosted by No. 9 Penn, and represented the first regular-season battle for first-year head coach Iryna Dolgikh.
“Coach has been really helpful and helped us win some matches that we might not have won in the past,” said senior epeeist and team captain Meghan Phair.
In the first team competition of the season, the Red showed some of its youth and inexperience on the first day, but was resilient and came out fighting on the second day of the meet. For the young team, this start was somewhat encouraging.
“We were pretty happy with how we did. We have a very young team, and we came out nervous but settled down and were fencing much better by the end of the weekend,” Phair said.
On the first day of competition, freshmen Alex Heiss set the pace for the Red with a 10-2 record in sabre. However, the team faltered, suffering tough losses to No. 7 Northwestern, 23-4, and Temple, 19-8, while falling short by the slimmest of margins in a 14-13 defeat at the hands of Drew. Despite topping Drew in both sabre and foil, a 6-3 defeat in epee sealed the Red’s fate against Drew. The Red disposed of the New Jersey Institute of Technology 26-1. NJIT did not field fencers in all the events and was forced to forfeit several bouts.
The Red came out fighting on the second day of action, scoring wins over Haverford and Rutgers, by 21-6 and 15-12, respectively, while suffering a close 15-12 loss to North Carolina.
The epee team led the way for the Red, posting wins in all three matches. Phair, a two-time All-American, finished with a team best 8-1 record on the day, which gave her a 17-3 overall record for the meet. Heiss went 7-2 to finish off the weekend with a 17-4 record.
After a disappointing first day, the Red was excited to come out and fence better the second time around.
“When it came down to it, the girls buckled down and won the bouts they needed, but we are improving and should do better next time around,” Phair said.
The Red will be back in action on Jan. 28, when the team travels to Wellesley, Mass., to face Vassar, Tufts, Hunter and Wellesley. The Red is confident it can improve upon its first performance of the season.
“Everybody needs to relax and become more confident in their abilities, and we should do much better this coming weekend,” Phair said.
Archived article by Jeremy Drucker Sun Staff Writer