Fencing: Northwestern set for light load down South


Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

The Wildcats face two unranked opponents on Saturday in Durham, North Carolina. Northwestern is hoping to mend any flaws ahead of an anticipated Midwest Fencing Conference Championships that commences Feb. 21.

Kevin Casey, Sports Editor


It’s been a series of action-packed weekends of late for No. 7 Northwestern, with an average of a dozen matches over the past two weekends, but this Saturday at the Duke Duals in Durham, North Carolina, the Wildcats only have two teams to worry about.

That means a smaller heaping of stress, something that can be a double-edged sword if mismanaged.

“We were able to get some rest this week because of only having two matches,” coach Laurie Schiller said. “We know what they’ve got. We fence in the afternoon so we … don’t have to get up too early, which is nice. The only thing I worry about a little is a letdown. We’ve been fencing hard for a month, I don’t want the team getting too relaxed.”

That’s easier said than done for the Cats (36-7). The previous schedule has been littered with fellow top-10 squads, as many as five over two days, but this weekend offers up just two unranked opponents in Duke (15-3) and North Carolina.

The Midwest Fencing Conference Championships also loom a little over two weeks from now, and NU has rival No. 5 Ohio State to hone in on there as the main impediment to a conference title.

Schiller insisted that his team is just focusing on this weekend rather than the Buckeyes, but the thought of a conference crown isn’t entirely absent.

“We all have the rings on our mind and we want to hang up a banner in Patten Gym,” junior foil Jen Yamin, a Daily columnist, said. “Having that on our minds the next few weeks and staying focused throughout the tournament should help us win.”

Still, NU is not underestimating this pair of opponents. The Cats beat both teams earlier this year, defeating the Blue Devils 18-9 at the Western Invitational and comfortably handling the Tar Heels 19-8 last weekend at NU Duals II. Sophomore sabre Alisha Gomez-Shah said although she expects the team to win both bouts by scores of somewhere between 17-10 and 20-7, similar to these previous bout tallies, she isn’t discounting the two squads.

In fact, the Cats are harping on a reduction in mistakes.

“We are more tactical than they are, and what we need to do is not to get too sloppy, lazy or go off the line hard,” Gomez-Shah said. “Our main focus is to improve things we’ve been doing wrong.”

This will be NU’s last set of dual meets before the all-important conference championships. Schiller sees his team in a good spot at the moment.

“Foil has probably been the most consistent the last few weeks,” Schiller said. “Sabre’s done pretty consistently. Epee’s been a little up and down. But on the other hand, epee really took Temple apart last Sunday. The trick is consistency. We know we can beat Ohio State. The question is getting the team focused at the right time.”

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