Competing in the Ivy League Championships at Philadelphia over the weekend, the Cornell women’s fencing team finished with a 2-4 record, good for the No. 5 spot for the fifth consecutive year.
“It was pretty tough for us because we were going against some of the top schools in the nation,” said freshman epee Vera Lin. “We obviously didn’t get as many wins as we wanted … but we came away knowing that we fought hard and fenced to the best of our abilities against some of the best fencers in the country.”
Spanning over the course of two days, the tournament featured round robins in which Cornell was matched up with Columbia, Yale, Princeton and Harvard on day one, then Brown and Penn on day two.
The Red struggled mightily during day one, failing to step up against last year’s three Ivy League co-champions in Columbia, Princeton and Harvard. Cornell lost all three matches by scores of 24-3, 21-6 and 17-10, respectively. However, the Red refused to end the day winless, earning a victory over Yale in a hard fought 14-13 bout.
“Three of the four teams we fenced [on day one] were all tied for first place last year,” Lin said. “These were some of the best fencers in the country, but we came away knowing that we’re working our way up there. We were [also] very happy with the hard win over Yale.”
Cornell would go on to split its two matches on day two with an 18-9 win over Brown and a 22-5 loss against Penn. The Red’s final 2-4 record put the team in fifth place, behind Ivy League champion Princeton, as well as Columbia, Penn and Harvard.
While Cornell failed to secure the number of wins it had hoped for, the bouts against Yale and Brown left the team with some positive takeaways. Despite two tight and intense matches, the Red displayed strong mental fortitude and prevailed over both opponents.
“Every match was very tough, but we kept fighting even when we were down,” said junior saber Megan Buteau. “This mentality was very important in our matches against Yale and Brown because those matches were so close.”
As the last team competition of the season, the tournament also provided the opportunity to evaluate how the group has matured since the beginning of the season. The Red demonstrated heightened team cohesion, bringing their mental toughness to life this weekend.
“We definitely improved our team spirit and have gotten closer as a [unit],” Lin said. “It really helps us … keep an open and focused mind while fencing. Our motto is ‘one touch at a time,’ and we’ve really been able to keep that in matches where we’re down but still know we can come back and win.”
Notably, senior Victoria Wines earned her fourth all-Ivy selection over the weekend, becoming the first athlete to accomplish the feat in Cornell program history. Wines also posted a 13-5 record during the tournament, and finished in fourth place in the epee competition.
“I am grateful I am the first fencer in Cornell to have achieved All-Ivy all 4 years but I am still looking forward to taking on regionals with my teammates in March,” Wines said.
Looking ahead, Cornell’s next competition will be at the NCAA Northeast Regionals on March 12. While not a team competition, the Regionals provide an opportunity for individual fencers to evaluate their skills against the best in the nation.
“The Ivy’s showed us what we need to work on individually for those going to regionals,” Buteau said. “We will try to correct those mistakes now since we will fence some of the other Ivy League fencers in regionals.”