February 10, 2006

Fencers to Cross Swords with Ivy Foes in NYC

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The Ivy League championships have already been an historical event for the fencing team this year – the Red earned its first victory over a conference opponent in 65 attempts when it topped Brown, 15-12, in the first leg of the round-robin tournament held in Newman Arena last weekend. Cornell will look to improve its standing in the Ancient Eight during the second round of competition this weekend in New York City, in which the Red will take on Columbia, Yale, and Penn.

“They are strong teams, especially Columbia, because Columbia has many members from the national team. It will be tough for us, but we will try,” said Cornell head coach Iryna Dolgikh.

That can-do attitude has spread through the ranks from coach to players since during preparation for this weekend’s bouts.

“I think our goal for now is just to do our best. Last weekend we broke a 65-match losing streak. I’m just hoping that we can carry some momentum into the weekend,” said senior captain Meaghan Phair.

Columbia is riding momentum of its own, coming off a 3-1 showing at in the Ithaca round. The Lions posted wins over Brown, Penn, and Yale, losing only to undefeated Harvard.

“The teams we are facing this weekend, they are all competitive. They are all very strong teams,” Phair said.

Despite dropping a match to Columbia, Penn is also coming off a successful first round, coming out on the winning end against Yale and Princeton.

In the match against Yale, Penn dominted the Bulldogs, 21-6. The match against Princeton was more of a challenge, but the Quakers still emerged victorious, with a final score of 16-11. This weekend, Penn will also compete against Harvard and Brown in addition to Cornell.

“It’s always exciting to go and compete against some really good teams,” Phair said.

Yale will be looking to rebound from a dismal first round of championship competiton, as the Bulldogs fell in all three of their matches. Yale will also be facing Princeton and Brown this weekend.

“Our top competitors are in top fencing condition. They are in good shape, and I hope they show good results and they will do something unbelievable,” Dolgikh said.

Last weekend, Cornell beat Brown 15-12 and lost two close matches to Harvard and Princeton. The sabre and epee squads came out especially strong for Cornell during last weekend’s bouts.Freshman Alexandra Heiss and Phair were both a perfect 3-0 against the Bears, competing in sabre and epee, respectively. Phair, a two-time All-American, has fought her way to an overall 6-3 record last weekend. Heiss has come on strong in her rookie campaign, posting a team-best record of 7-2 during last weekend’s bouts. Junior Ivana Zgaljic – an NCAA qualifier last season in sabre – and sophomore epeeist Erica Waichman also fenced well last weekend and are expected to contribute in the upcoming round.

Altogether, the team is hungry to add to last weekend’s historical success – and they don’t care whose feelings they have to hurt to do it.

“My goal is to make as many girls cry as I can,” Phair said. “I’m just real excited for the weekend and to see the girls do exactly what they have been training to do and that is to win.”

Archived article by Catherine Bourque
Sun Staff Writer