Northwestern foiled the competition this weekend in its first dual meet of the season. During the NU Duals meet, the Wildcats beat all 12 teams by a combined score of 298-26 at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion.
“What more can you ask when you go 12-0?” coach Laurie Schiller asked. “We slammed everybody, pretty much.”
Wisconsin, Purdue, University of Chicago, Lawrence University, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Bradley, Swarthmore and Indiana each left Evanston with a loss to NU marked on its schedule.
“It’s looking very good considering this is just preseason and just the beginning,” sophomore sabre Cindy Oh said.
In fact, NU had a couple of fencers competing outside of their comfort zones. Because multiple Cats are injured and one is abroad, Schiller used his large foil squad to plug the holes on the roster: Junior Charlotte Sands and senior Katherine Kim — both foilists — both picked up the epee.
A part-time fencer, sabre senior Sarah Bruhl, also started for NU.
“We have a big enough and strong enough group to fill those needs,” Schiller said. “It shows the kind of good spirit that they’ll step up and fill in when there’s another injury or a reason that we need them to do that.”
And, most importantly, the freshmen got their first exposure to dual meets.
“They definitely saw the competitiveness and how different it is from national competitions and fencing for yourself,” Oh said. “But they handled it very well.”
The setbacks didn’t hurt the Cats, winning two matches 27-0 and five 26-1. NU’s most difficult victory was 19-8 over Michigan.
The Cats opened round one against Wisconsin and Purdue, toppling them 27-0 and 24-3 respectively. Round two was more of the same: 23-4 over Chicago and 24-3 over Lawrence.
But NU wasn’t done. Round three meant continued dominance for the Cats. The team notched a pair of 26-1 victories over Iowa and Michigan State.
“This was a good start,” Schiller said. “We got the freshmen introduced to what it’s like to fence in dual meets against other teams. Everybody did very, very strongly.”
The fourth round saw NU’s only “misstep”: the aforementioned 19-8 margin over Michigan. The Wolverines won three of the first four bouts in foil and held a 4-3 lead, but NU fought back to win it 5-4 after sophomores Kayla Kelch and Stephanie Chan delivered the tying and winning bouts, respectively.
Also in that round, NU took down Minnesota 26-1.
The remaining rounds featured four more blowouts: 24-3 over Florida, 27-0 over Bradley and 26-1 over Swarthmore and Indiana.
“Each week is a step toward the ultimate goal,” Schiller said. “This was a good start, and we got the freshmen introduced to what it’s like to fence in dual meets against other teams.”
The meet also gave the Cats the chance to square off against other schools as a team.
“It’s nice to have a weekend where we’re not fencing against each other,” Schiller said. “It gets tiresome after a while.”
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