Fencing: Northwestern prepares for scrimmage against rival Notre Dame

Alex Lederman, Assistant Sports Editor


Northwestern takes on one of its biggest rivals in a scrimmage Friday in South Bend, Indiana.

“Notre Dame is one of our strongest competitors and we go against them more times throughout the season,” sophomore epee Mandeep Bhinder said. “This will be a good indicator of what we’re going against and who we should be putting in against them.

Though coach Laurie Schiller would like to come away with a win, he said that’s not his top priority.

“Just like basketball does a preseason game, we’re doing a preseason match,” he said. “There’s a result that somebody wins or loses the match, but mostly we’re looking at it as an opportunity to have a really strong practice with a really strong team.”

In the afternoon, the Wildcats and Fighting Irish will practice together and do a scrimmage. Then in the evening, there will be a team match that doesn’t count toward either team’s overall record. In fact, the meet is not even the usual collegiate format with five touch bouts. Instead, it will be done in the USA Fencing relay style, in which the first team to 60 touches total comes away victorious.

“We’d sure love to win the team match,” Schiller said. “We didn’t last year, so it would be nice to win that, even though technically for qualifying purposes it doesn’t mean anything. It still would be a nice win the night before we play them in football.”

NU recently welcomed 12 schools to Evanston for a dual meet and won by a combined score of 298-26. But those were mostly club teams, and this scrimmage will give the Cats a better idea of how they actually stack up.

“We’re looking at a much stronger tournament than we had against the club teams,” Schiller said. “The club teams just weren’t that good, so it was hard to gauge how we had progressed. Here we’re fencing against some top people, so if we fence well against them, then we feel we’ve made progress, and we can look at film and break down and move on from there.”

Additionally, Schiller said it gives the Cats a good look at one of their biggest rivals in the region, though it gives the Fighting Irish a look at the Cats too.

“We get to film and see how they fence and plan ahead for when we fence against them for real in the winter,” he said.

NU and Notre Dame are very familiar with each other in fencing. The two schools, along with Ohio State, battle for glory in the Midwest Fencing Conference year-in and year-out.

After this weekend, the fall preseason is done for the most part. All that is left is one more United States Fencing Association Junior North American Cup that only a few fencers compete in.

“We’re gonna be focusing the rest of the quarter on consolidating the gains that we’ve made and starting to work toward the teams that we’re gonna be fencing against in January,” Schiller said. “We’re starting to plan out for that, take a look at the kinds of bouts and the kinds of plans we’re gonna need to prepare for those kids.”

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