Fencing: Northwestern plays host, looks to challenge nations’ top teams in NU Duals

Alex Lederman, Reporter

After road trips that took the team to both coasts, Northwestern finally gets to fight on its home turf this weekend at the NU Duals.

Coach Laurie Schiller feels confident.

“I feel like we should be going at least 9-1 this weekend,” he said.

The No. 7 Wildcats (23-4) are coming off a disappointing outing back east, where they went 7-4 with close losses to Columbia and Temple. Schiller felt both matches were winnable, had the team given a little extra push.

“We focused in practice on just getting that extra touch, making that extra little action that makes the difference between winning and losing,” he said.

At the NU Duals, the Cats will face ten opponents: UC San Diego, No. 9 Temple, No. 8 Penn, Duke, Caltech and Tufts on Saturday; and Farleigh Dickinson, North Carolina, No. 1 Princeton and Lawrence on Sunday.

Schiller said he particularly looks forward to his team facing off against Princeton, Temple, Penn and Duke. Although he thinks beating the No. 1 Tigers will be tough, the coach expects wins versus the other three competitors. 

NU was inconsistent against Penn and Temple last weekend. The Cats conquered the hometown Quakers by a touch — a 14-13 victory — and Penn is looking to settle the score in Evanston. Meanwhile, NU lost a 15-12 heartbreaker to Temple and will be out for revenge Saturday.

Duke also presents a challenge for the Cats. The Blue Devils are one of NU’s biggest rivals, and last year topped Schiller’s club for the first time in years.

Although hosting one of the largest fencing meets in the country comes with a lot of preparation work for Schiller, playing host has its advantages, too. Schiller gets to create the schedule and has set the harder matches later for his team so it gets a warm-up.

“When we were at NYU, we had Columbia right away off the bat, which is someone I’d rather not fence first,” he said.

Schiller said he does not think there is much home-field advantage in fencing or much added pressure from hosting, but he said it’s nice to not have to travel between different cities in one weekend.

Another advantage of being home is that more fencers may get to compete. Some of the younger players who were not on the travel squad may see action this weekend. Nearly half of the team is freshmen, so the weekend will offer an opportunity for Schiller to evaluate his newer players.

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