The women’s fencing team, under head coach Iryna Dolgikh, will enter the 2009-10 postseason this weekend with the first round of the Ivy League Championships. The Red will host the various Ivy teams at Newman Arena on Sunday.
The match will be the first Ivy Championship in four years held at Cornell. After finishing sixth last year in the Ivy League, the Red looks to improve on the overall 1-5 record it posted in last year’s competition. This year, however, 50 percent (nine members) of the Red squad fencing at the tournament are freshmen.
Sunday’s matches will be the Red’s first team competition since the Dec. 5 Brandeis Invitational, which the Red completed with a 4-1 record, losing only to national powerhouse St. John’s by a score of 14-13. Yet Dolgikh stressed the plethora of talent in the Ivy tournament.
“Harvard, Columbia and Penn are always top-8 in the nation in NCAA ranking,” Dolgikh said. “The Ivy Tournament is the strongest tournament for us every single year.”
The Ivy League Championships, beginning on Sunday, will decide the final Ivy standings. Penn will host the second day of competition, which will be fenced the following weekend in Philadelphia, Pa.
The Red looks to continue receiving balanced performances in the three weapons — Saber, Epee and Foil — at the Ivy League Championships. According to Dolgikh, the improvement of the saber weapon in particular, aided by the performances of freshmen Beverly Yang and Audrey Spear, has contributed to the team’s success this year.
“The Ivy Tournament is going to be 10 times more difficult than any other tournament,” Yang said. “We know we’re not the strongest team in the Ivy but even two or three wins would be a great victory for us.”
The Red will count on the usual suspects for strong performances, as well. Seniors Tasha Hall, Sallie Dietrich and Katherine Thompson will lead the experienced epee squad. Hall finished with an 11-7 record at last year’s Ivy League Championships, while Dietrich advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championships. Thompson, a team captain, earned second-team All-Ivy honors and finished 10-5 at last year’s competition.
“I’d like to make All-Ivy, whether first or second team, again,” Thompson said. “Our squad is looking very strong this year. Everyone’s a great fencer and everyone should do really well.”
Sophomore Rebecca Hirschfeld, who has led the foil squad all year, finished with a 7-10 last year and expects to improve with a year’s worth of experience under her belt.
“I learned a lot last year. … so far this season I’ve felt pretty good,” Hirschfeld said. “You know what it like to travel and how the competitions run and how long it takes. There are fewer extra things to worry about.”
Original Author: Nathan Lowry