The Cornell fencing team had a successful Sunday in Poughkeepsie. The group fenced at the Vassar Invitational, winning seven of the eight matches it competed in. The Red defeated Fairleigh Dickinson, Haverford, CCNY, Sacred Heart, Vassar, Wellesley and Stevens, losing only to Northwestern.
“I don’t think we even had a bout where a fencer didn’t win a single bout within one school,” said head coach Daria Schneider, “It was a really strong day for everybody even with [several] harder schools.”
In addition to the overall team performance, squad performances were almost uniformly dominant, with the foil squad going 54-18 and both the epee and saber squads going 53-19.
The foil squad was undefeated in its squad matches for the day, being the only group to pull off a squad win against Northwestern. Every member of each squad finished the meet with a winning record.
“Foil was amazing,” Schneider said, “Foil was awesome and Northwestern has really strong foil so our fencers just really outperformed them.”
Leading up to the invitational, Schneider was confident that the Red was going to have dominant performances across the board, saying that she expected the group to win the majority of their matches and only be challenged by several schools.
“It was Sacred Heart, Stevens and Northwestern,” Schneider said. “Those were the really good matches that we had. For the rest of them it’s just opportunities to practice what we’re working on.”
Of these three, only Northwestern — a team that ended the previous season as the No. 7 ranked team nationally — managed to best the Red. But Schneider is excited to see the team take another chance against the Wildcats this coming January.
“We fence them again later in the year,” Schneider said. “So we’ll have another chance to beat them and we had a really close match with them… if our saber can fence a little bit better we should be able to beat them.”
From an individual standpoint, the team was also enormously successful. The three squad captains, Victoria Vines (epee) Megan Buteau (saber) and Gabriella Zusin (foil), all had nearly perfect days, each only losing a single bout.
The meet was also an ideal opportunity for some of the newer members of the team to test their abilities.
“Because [they were] schools that we felt pretty confident with, we started our day with all of our freshmen and our youngest fencers,” Schneider said. “It was a good chance for them to feel what it’s like to start the match off and go through the whole match having to earn all of the victories without a lot of our starters. So that was great for us to have that experience as a team.”
In particular, freshman epee Vera Lin went 13-3 and won every bout against Farleigh Dickinson, Haverford and Wellesley, stepping up to have the second best record for the epee squad that day.
“[It’s] an opportunity to practice when people are watching you, expecting you to win,” Schneider said. “For some of our freshmen that might have been the first time they’re experiencing that, especially on the collegiate stage, obviously on the collegiate stage.”
The group is looking forward to more challenging meets, with matches against nationally ranked and Ivy League teams. But for now, Schneider is excited with the opportunity that less challenging matches present for the team.
Every athlete who fenced was able to fence entire rounds, which for a new coach, is crucial to learning how different individuals compete.
“It creates a little bit more hunger across each squad,” Schneider said. “I think people are working really hard because they realize that this is a time when things are more open and the ladder is really fluid right now. So it’s exciting to see people hungry and earning spots that they may not have got coming into the year.”