Fencing: Wildcats show promise for remainder of season

Dan Ryan

At the conclusion of Northwestern’s matches at the UC San Diego West Invitational two weeks ago, coach Laurie Schiller put a great deal of emphasis on the team’s dual meets in New York and Philadelphia.

“The next meets we go to will tell us if we’re going to be strong or not,” Schiller said.

If last weekend’s meets are any indication of future success, then the Wildcats should have plenty to be happy about as the season progresses. NU posted a 4-2 record at the NYU duals on Saturday and followed up with a 6-0 showing at the Philadelphia Invitational on Sunday.

“I think we fenced very solidly,” Schiller said. “We beat some very good teams.”

Ranked No. 7 in the coaches’ poll entering the weekend, NU kicked off the NYU Invitational by beating No. 6 Columbia 15-12 by riding a 9-0 performance by the foil squad. The sabre squad led the way in the NU’s second bout against Yale, going 8-1 as the Cats won comfortably 20-7.

Despite the strong start, the team ran into trouble during the middle of the competition.

Drawing No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 10 Ohio State as the third and fourth opponents of the day, NU did not replicate its morning success. The Cats fell to the Fighting Irish 11-16 before losing a heartbreaking 13-14 bout against the Buckeyes.

“I’m sorry we lost to Ohio State,” Schiller said. “That’s the one I thought we let get away. And we’ve shown we can compete in the top ten.”

The Cats bounced back quickly from the losses, however, defeating Wayne State 20-7 before taking down NYU 24-3. All three squads returned to form to end with a 4-2 record on the afternoon.

Although worn out by the duals on Saturday, the team carried the momentum from their 4-2 showing into Sunday’s matches.

“At NYU we had more energy,” sophomore Chloe Grainger said. “And when we went to Philadelphia we didn’t perform as well as we were expecting.”

This did not, however, hinder the Cats at the Philadelphia Invitational.

NU started the day against No. 8 Temple, defeating its host 15-12 on the strength of a comeback effort by the epee squad. The Cats easily beat their next two opponents, sweeping away Sacred Heart 25-2 and Johns Hopkins 24-3.

NU faced stiffer competition against No. 9 Penn, but behind strong play by the foil squad, the Cats knocked off the Quakers and claimed their third win against a top ten team this season.

The rest of the afternoon was easy for NU as it beat NJIT 23-4 before shutting out Drew 27-0.

“We wanted to finish the weekend strong,” sophomore Kate Cavanaugh said. “The momentum of the weekend, we really felt it and we wanted to finish 6 and 0 after that long weekend.”

Using the weekend as a benchmark, the Cats appear poised to repeat the success they enjoyed last season when they posted a program-record 45 dual meet wins.

“We feel very good about the next few weeks,” Schiller said. “We got another shot at Notre Dame, and we have Princeton and Ohio State, which are very good teams. I think we’ll have a strong season.”

NU will travel to South Bend next weekend to compete in the Notre Dame Duals and will get another shot at its top-ranked foe.

“There’s always something to improve on,” Cavanaugh said. “But I think that if everyone’s on, we can beat anyone out there.”

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