Fencing: Wildcats emerge from busy weekend with strong results

Alex Lederman, Reporter

Northwestern (31-6) welcomed schools from around the country to Evanston this weekend and walked away from the NU Duals with eight wins and two losses.

The No. 7 Wildcats split the four matches they most anticipated, defeating rivals Duke and No. 9 Temple but losing to No. 8 Penn and No. 1 Princeton.

“Everybody up and down on the team went out there and did their job,” coach Laurie Schiller said.

NU faced its biggest challengers early, squaring off against Temple, Penn and Duke on Saturday morning. But first, the team took on UC San Diego. The Cats cruised to victory, topping the Tritons 18-9, with freshmen Sarit Kapon and Kayla Kelch dominating in foil. Both went 3-0 in their first action of 2014. 

After the warm-up round, NU went up against three of its biggest rivals back to back to back. First up was Temple. Following a heartbreaking 15-12 loss to the Owls last week at the Philadelphia Invitational, the Cats entered this one hungry for victory. Revenge was sweet for NU, which triumphed over Temple 17-10, including wins in all of epee, foil and sabre.

The Cats looked to ride the momentum from a strong victory into their next match, but the high from beating Temple could not propel them past Penn. NU was looking to duplicate its 14-13 win on the final bout against Penn last week but fell just short on its home turf. This time around, it was Penn with the 1-point triumph. Although freshman Ania Parzecki went undefeated in her sabre matches, Penn’s foil squad crushed NU’s, 8-1.

“It was really disappointing to lose that, but we still split with them on the season, so I really can’t feel bad about that,” Schiller said. “I thought they really put the effort in, and the ball just didn’t fall in at the last minute, that’s all.”

NU rebounded well, overpowering Duke 19-8. The Cats lost to the Blue Devils for the first time in years last season, and they weren’t willing to let their rival prevail again. Parzecki and fellow freshman Cindy Oh again swept the competition in sabre.

Compared to the Cats’ eventful morning, the afternoon was a breeze. NU easily sailed to 26-1 and 18-9 victories over the Caltech and Tufts.

“I thought we showed a lot of energy and determination, and I was pleased that we didn’t go down against any of the weaker teams,” Schiller said.

Sunday brought about three more easy wins for the Cats, who topped Fairleigh Dickinson 22-5, North Carolina 21-6 and Lawrence 24-3.

The real challenge came from top-ranked Princeton, which defeated NU 22-5  on its way to an undefeated weekend.

“The one score that looked bad was Princeton,” Schiller said, “but if you actually watched the matches — first of all, they’re number one in the country — every bout was tight. One of their coaches said to me that this was their toughest match here. We fought them tooth and nail.”

Senior epee Dina Bazarbayeva, who was honored for her final home meet as NU’s sole forthcoming-graduate, and junior epee Courtney Dumas both turned in their usual strong performances. The two All-Americans improved to 39-10 and 48-13 on the season. Schiller also noted freshman foil Stephanie Chan as being a particular standout this week.

“Stephanie Chan was just awesome all weekend,” he said. “She’s a freshman, and she stepped up last week, and she’s really just been a rock. She goes out there and just fights every bout and is as cool as can be.”

NU next travels to South Bend, Ind., for the Notre Dame Duals this weekend, highlighted by a matchup with the Fighting Irish.

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