Northwestern suffered its first losses of the season at the NYU and Philadelphia Invitationals in a weekend of mixed results.
Saturday in New York, the No. 7 Wildcats (23-4) went 3-3, defeating Yale, Wayne State and NYU, but losing to Columbia, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
In NU’s first challenge of the day, sixth-ranked Columbia took down the Cats 16-11. Although NU captured six of the nine sabre fights, they were outdueled in both epee and foil. Despite the team’s shortcomings against the Lions, freshman Julia Abelsky went 3-0 in her sabre matches.
“We lost three overtime bouts right away against Columbia, so you turn those bouts around and we win,” coach Laurie said.
The Cats rebounded from the loss to top Yale 20-7, but lost their next two matches 18-9 against No. 3 Notre Dame and 23-4 to No. 5 Ohio State. Both teams defeated NU’s foil squad 9-0.
“I’m not concerned about the losses in foil,” Schiller said. “Those teams literally have Olympian fencers. I thought we did really well against top international-level competition.”
NU looked dominant in its final two matches of the day, topping Wayne State 24-3 and host school NYU 22-5, sweeping the epee fights in both.
The Cats fared better Sunday in the second half of their road trip. At Penn, NU captured four victories and lost only one close matchup.
NU handled Johns Hopkins with ease, 22-5, in its opening match, earning 8-1 victories in both sabre and epee.
Next, No. 9 Temple handed the Cats their only loss of the day. NU suffered a trio of 5-4 losses to ultimately fall 15-12.
“Losing to Temple was one of the tougher losses,” senior Dina Bazarbayeva said.
“A couple of touches are turned around and we win,” he said. “Columbia and Temple were definitely winnable matches.”
NU got right back on its feet and defeated No. 8 Penn 14-13. The epee topped the home squad 8-1. Bazarbayeva and junior Courtney Dumas went undefeated, with freshman Mandeep Bhinder delivering the final blow.
“Against Penn we really brought it,” Bazarbayeva said. “The energy that we had as a team really helped us all individually.”
After prevailing over Penn, the Cats cruised to victories against Cornell and Sacred Heart, winning 18-9 and 16-11 respectively. Schiller was especially impressed with the performance of some of his younger players, who unexpectedly had to fill in for injured veterans.
“We had a couple of injuries to starters last week, so we weren’t necessarily at full strength, but that’s not an excuse,” Schiller said. “I think the kids actually fought really hard. I think we missed a lot of small opportunities — a hit here, a hit there — that would have turned things around, especially against Temple and Columbia.”
He said freshmen Cindy Oh and Ania Parzecki did tremendous jobs in place of Alisha Gomez-Shah, the team’s strongest sabre.
“We have a young team, and I forget that sometimes, but I think it was a good weekend in a lot of ways,” Schiller said. “Ultimately, our goal is conferences, regionals and the NCAA finals, so while we like to put the ‘Ws’ up there in these duals, I more look at these things as learning experiences.”
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