Fencing: Undefeated Wildcats storm into season’s toughest test yet

Abbey Chase, Reporter

After blitzing their opponents in their first two dual meets, the Wildcats will put their undefeated streak on the line this weekend as they head East to take on some of the country’s best squads.

While the majority of the team rested last weekend in preparation for the upcoming 12 duals, seven of the team’s younger fencers competed individually at the North American Cup.

“In a team event, you’ve got the rest of your squad watching you fence,” coach Laurie Schiller said. “There’s a lot more emotion and a lot more power in dual meets. That’s why it’s fun. You’re fencing Notre Dame, you’re fencing Columbia, you’re not just fencing Sarah whoever.”

One of six freshmen competing last weekend, Mikela Goldstein has already proven herself, earning a coveted spot on the travel team in her first year at NU and posting a 27-2 dual match record. 

“That was definitely a goal of mine coming to school,” Goldstein said. “After I made it, there is a sense of pressure and responsibility, and I think that I’ve performed pretty well.”

Sophomore Courtney Dumas, who placed 14th in the junior epee event last weekend, has extra motivation heading into the weekend after a letdown last year.

“I had been undefeated going into the New York and Philly duals, which is our hardest dual weekend,” Dumas said in an interview earlier this month. “Once we fenced Temple, I hit a bump in the road and I had one loss, and we ended up losing 14-13 to Temple. Mentally, I took that as I sort of let down the team and last year was just a learning experience that just because I lost one doesn’t mean that I lost for the team and that it’s a team effort. I let that one bout really affect how I fenced for the rest of that weekend. I really want to redeem that performance and go in with a stronger mindset than I did last time.”

NU will begin its weekend at the Philadelphia Invitational on Saturday. The Cats went 5-1 in last year’s event, with the loss to Temple. 

“We’re fencing teams that are in the top 10 so Temple, Penn, Columbia, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Cornell, these are all teams that have the potential to beat us and we have the potential to beat them,” Schiller said. “The rest of the other six teams, I think it’ll be very disappointing to lose to any of them. But every match is important and you can never take anybody lightly because you never know.”

Sunday’s NYU Invitational will feature an even tougher challenge, pitting the Cats against the exact same lineup they faced last year. NU went 3-3, falling to Notre Dame, Columbia and Ohio State, who currently hold the No. 2, 3 and 4 positions, respectively. 

“I’m definitely really excited and really pumped for this meet this weekend,” Goldstein, who placed 27th last weekend, said. “I’m not going to say I’m angry about last weekend, but it’s definitely given me a goal to reach, to fence even better than I have been and show the coaches that I deserve to be here. I want to show them that I can really perform well, and I know that the rest of the team will perform very well, too. The people that I saw fencing (last) weekend from Northwestern, I was really proud of them.”

The newly minted No. 7 Cats are defending a 16-0 record heading into the weekend but Schiller said his team is ready. 

“You prepare them the best you can and you try to give them the most confidence and feeling they can do these things,” Schiller said. “By knowing the opponents and knowing who’s there, we know that we have a good team, so it’s just a question of putting it out and getting it done.”