Fencing: Northwestern unable to close out tight duals in Philadelphia, NYU invitational

Benjamin Taylor

Northwestern had an opportunity to solidify itself as one of the top teams in the nation this weekend at the Philadelphia Invitational and NYU Invitational. After the pivotal weekend, it remains unclear if the Wildcats capitalized on that opportunity.

The Cats, ranked fourth in the nation by the CollegeFencing360.com Coaches Poll, had impressive victories against No. 9 Pennsylvania and seven other teams, but they suffered tough losses against No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 8 Temple and unranked Columbia.

“I don’t feel we performed up to the level we could have performed,” coach Laurie Schiller said. “I know we could have done better and the team knows that as well.”

NU had to face a high level of competition throughout the weekend and ended up losing very close bouts, with three of the Cats’ losses coming by three points or less. While NU started off the Philadelphia Invitational with two comeback wins ­­- 17-10 against Cornell and 15-12 against Penn – the team ended up losing the decisive final point to Temple after being tied 13-13. At the NYU Invitational, the Cats continued to lose close bouts: 14-13 against Columbia and 15-12 against Ohio State. The only dual the Cats lost that wasn’t close was against Notre Dame, who beat NU 19-8.

“If you are going to be successful you have to learn to close,” Schiller said.

Schiller and several of NU’s fencers were not pleased with the team’s results this weekend, especially after having a subpar performance at the USFA January North American Cup in Portland, Ore. the week before.

“Our goal of beating some of the other top teams in the nation did not come out the way we wanted it to,” Courtney Dumas said.

The freshman epeeist, a bright spot for the Cats, continued her rookie season success by going 11-3 in her bouts at the Philadelphia Invitational before going 8-6 the next day at the NYU Invitational.

Schiller said some other fencers had good performances over the weekend, including junior foilist Dayana Sarkisova and freshman sabrist Chloe Grainger.

While Schiller was not pleased with the results that came out of the weekend, he said it was a good opportunity for the team to learn, work on their mistakes and be stronger for the remainder of the season.

“There are always positives to come out of the weekend,” Schiller said. “There always have to be things you can take from the weekend and learn from.”

Luckily for the Cats, they will have a chance to quickly hit the strip this weekend at the Notre Dame Duals, a tournament Schiller said has a lower level of competition.

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