Cornell fencing made the trip to Columbus, Ohio this weekend to take on some of the biggest names in college fencing at the Elite Invitational. After an upsetting Saturday, the two-day long event was highlighted by a strong finish on Sunday with victories over both Air Force and Cleveland State to close out the weekend.
Saturday began with a loss to the hometown Buckeyes, who finished the spring ranked fifth in the nation. Demonstrating its new gritty culture, Cornell rebounded well in its next match with a win over New Jersey Institute of Technology, 18-9. The Red finished the day with a loss to Northwestern, 5-22, and a nail-biting loss to North Carolina, 12-15.
“We lost focus at the end of the day Saturday, leading to a loss to Northwestern, but the team came back strong for day two,” head coach Daria Schneider said to Cornell Big Red in response to an upsetting first day. “We look forward to another look at them, as well as UNC later this season. Our entirely sophomore epee squad showed they have reached a new level of maturity, patience and tactical ownership of the sport.”
That epee squad, full of young talent, showed promise and finished day two 20-16, highlighted by an 8-1 finish against Cleveland state.
Starting Sunday with tough losses to top-ranked Notre Dame and No. 3 Princeton, the Red again showed its emphasis on grit and mental preparation with back-to-back wins over Cleveland State and Air Force to close out the weekend.
Senior captain Liby Kiriakidi is optimistic about the team’s performance and attitude.
“It’s been a great weekend, full of learning experiences, tough bouts and exhausting challenges,” she told the Sun. “Even though the second day of competition had harder rounds, we fought with more determination, energy and grit, and our results showed it.”
The biggest surprise from the weekend came from freshman Maria Visquiera, who went 11-1 on day two and 18-6 overall for the foil team against Notre Dame and Princeton. Visquiera and the rest of the foil squad showed great potential over the weekend finishing a team-leading 45-27.
“I am especially proud of the freshmen for quickly picking up the format of these meets and showing amazing performances,” Liby Kiriakidi said in regards to the freshman’s standout performance in a tournament where the team was not at full strength.
“The speed with which our freshmen have embraced our culture and their strength in discipline and hard work gives us confidence that they will be leaders in future years enabling us to continue building for the seasons to come,” Schneider told The Sun. “Our team is operating on a higher level than last year when it comes to grit, communication, maturity and focus”
The Red will have to wait almost a full month until their next team competition, the Brandeis Invitational on Dec. 3, but many of the athletes will take this time to focus on individual national competitions.
Over that almost month long wait, the team will work on its composure as it hopes for a better start in its next tournament, according to Schneider.
“We need to improve our ability to be ready out of the gate in the first round of each match,” she said. “Especially for the first match of the day and after byes. That will be our focus in training as we head into Brandeis.”
Nevertheless, captain Liby Kiriakidi is satisfied with the team’s growth this weekend and confidence going forward.
“We learned how best to support each other in moments of glory and disappointment, and we will use this to come into our next competition with more confidence and self-assurance.”