March 2, 2007

Fencing Team Finishes Season at IFA Championships

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Coming off a strong performance at the second round robin round of the Ivy League championships, the fencing team heads south to Lawrenceville, N.J., this weekend to compete in the Intercollegiate Fencing Association championships.
The Red is hoping it can carry over momentum from its last competition into this weekend’s tilt, and they’ll need to, seeing as the IFA championship is historically the toughest weekend of fencing for the Red.
“We had the best dual season in a really long time, so this weekend we’re coming in with a lot more confidence than in the past,” said senior captain Ivana Zgaljic. “We also know that last weekend’s losses were really close, so that’s going to motivate us to perform even better this weekend.”
The IFA is the sport’s affiliate of the ECAC, which includes all of Cornell’s Ivy League rivals, in addition to Boston College, Brandeis, MIT, New York University and Vassar.
The IFA championship is the oldest collegiate championship in the country, and this weekend, the 113th champion will be crowned.
Cornell will be hoping to improve on its fifth place from last year, which was much better than its 10th place finish in 2005. Although Harvard took the victory at last year’s tournament, Columbia is the tounament favorite going into this weekend’s competition after securing an Ivy League championship last weekend. Cornell fell to Columbia’s fencing team by a final score of 21-6 during the first round robin round of the Ivy League championships. Among this weekend’s competitors, Cornell has also dropped matches to Harvard (21-6), Princeton (19-8) and Penn (14-13).
The Red, however, has recorded victories this season over Yale, Vassar, Brandeis and Brown. The 19-8 decision against Vassar and the 18-9 victory over Brandeis came as part of the team’s best single day of the season, a four-win afternoon at the Brandeis Invitational.
At last year’s championships, Meghan Phair ’06 placed third in epee as the women’s fencing team notched a fifth-place finish. Phair won eight times in 11 bouts to pace the epee squad. Among the A strip fencers, her 51 touches were the most scored, and she also allowed the fewest touches, with 23. Lindsay Reyl ’06 and Claire Barbasch ’06 combined for nine more victories to earn a sixth-place finish for epee.
The sabre squad bested epee’s outing by placing fifth, relying on a balanced attack from Alex Heiss, senior Ivana Zgaljic and classmate Elise Pasoreck. The Red struggled on the foil strip, but its third weapon provided just enough firepower to secure the overall fifth-place finish.
Head coach Iryna Dolgikh seems confident that her team will perform well this weekend.
“My team looks very good and mobile, ready to fight, and put in their maximum effort,” Dolgikh said. “I believe we will be able to build on our success against the 15 teams at the IFA. It’s a very prestigious meet, very important and I believe my team will be up to the challenge.”