Fencing: Northwestern falls to Duke, upsets Penn State

Freshman foilist Jen Yamin competed during the 2013 NU Duals. Yamin and the Wildcats notched their first upset of the season last weekend, defeating Penn State.

Daily file photo by Skylar Zhang

Freshman foilist Jen Yamin competed during the 2013 NU Duals. Yamin and the Wildcats notched their first upset of the season last weekend, defeating Penn State.

Abbey Chase, Reporter

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The Wildcats’ season so far has been characterized by consistency, but an odd weekend on the road saw Northwestern on either end of two upsets at the Duke Duals in Durham, N.C. on Sunday.

“A coach would like to get that consistent performance out of their team all the time and it just doesn’t happen,” coach Laurie Schiller said. “That’s frustrating but every program, every coach has to go through that.”

Sunday morning saw a slow start from the Cats, who stumbled out of the starting blocks with a loss to No. 11 Duke.

“It was our first match of the day and I think some of us were not really as worked up and aggressive as we should have been,” senior Chloe Grainger said. “We haven’t lost to Duke since I’ve been here and I think we got a little lackadaisical.”

Although Grainger won her three bouts to help push the sabre squad to a 5-4 win, a 7-2 loss by the epee squad put the Cats in a hole against the Blue Devils, and the rest of the team was unable to make up the difference.

“They’re a good team but they weren’t better than us,” Schiller said. “I was not at all happy with that because there were just too many bouts lost that shouldn’t have been lost and the end result was a 14-13 defeat. But there’s no excuses. You have to come out ready to play.”

After a disappointing start to the day, NU came out in its second match ready to fight.

“It definitely was a wake-up call,” Grainger said of the team’s loss to Duke. “Our foil captain Dayana (Sarkisova) was very upset and gave us a talking-to afterwards and got us pumped up for Penn State and I think we really turned it around.”

Taking on Penn State, a team NU had not beaten since 2008, the Cats put forth a determined effort to take the match from the No. 5 Nittany Lions. The epee squad rebounded from its morning loss to decisively win 8-1 to help propel NU to a 17-10 victory.

While the Cats have had close matches with their higher-ranked opponents all season, their win over Penn State marked the first time NU scored an upset in 2013.

“We haven’t really had what my coach calls our signature win this year and I think that Penn State is maybe our signature win,” Grainger said. “I’m a little put-off by Duke maybe being our signature loss but I think it was good that we were able to follow up that signature loss with our signature win and pick it up for ourselves and our coach.”

The Cats closed out the weekend with an 18-9 win over North Carolina, their second victory over the Tar Heels in one week.

With a 34-7 record on the season, NU now has just one set of dual meets left at Notre Dame to try to score another upset before the end of the regular season.

The majority of the team will have an off-weekend this weekend while nine of the team’s younger competitors will be travelling to compete individually and as squads in the Junior Olympic Fencing Championships in Baltimore, Md.