Fencing: Northwestern goes undefeated at Western Invitational


Source: Northwestern Athletics

A Northwestern fencer prepares to strike. The Wildcats beat all seven of their opponents on Sunday.

Peter Warren, Assistant Sports Editor


After more than two months of not fencing in a collegiate competition, Northwestern did not appear to skip a beat in its return to action.

The Wildcats went undefeated at Sunday’s Western Invitational in Palo Alto, California, marking the second time NU went undefeated at a tournament this season. The Cats were victorious over Air Force, Caltech, Florida, Incarnate Word, Stanford, UC San Diego and Vassar.

NU’s victories included 27-0 sweeps of Florida and Caltech and an 18-9 win over the host Cardinal in its first matchup of the day.

“We started the day really, really fast with Stanford, who was one of our big competitors,” junior sabre Maddy Curzon said. “We came out super strong.”

Air Force, which NU had previously beaten 16-11 in November, gave the Cats their biggest challenge of the day.

Coach Zach Moss said the performance of the epee squad in this matchup proved crucial in securing a NU victory. The epee team went 6-3 in its nine bouts with the Falcons, while the foil squad went 5-4 and sabre went 4-5.

“Epee did a really nice job in that match in particular of making sure they got enough victories to offset the foil and sabre squads where Air Force is a lot stronger,” Moss said.

During the Air Force matchup, senior sabre Emine Yücel faced off against Leanne Singleton-Comfort, who finished tied for third at the 2016 NCAA championship. Yücel upset the former All-American in a win that proved vital to the team’s success.
Moss said the bout was the best of the whole day.

“She took calculated risks,” Moss said. “She didn’t try to do more than she was capable of and made sure that she used her strengths and her opponent’s weaknesses.”

Freshman foil Sarah Filby led Cats with a perfect 9-0 record against Air Force, Stanford and UCSD, the teams with the strongest foil squads.

Moss said he was impressed with Filby’s performance, especially for only her second college competition. Filby said she was happy with her performance but felt it was not her best outing.

“I would say like a 7 or 8 out of 10,” Filby said. “I definitely made some mistakes and things I need to work on, but I felt pretty good as a whole.”

Sophomore foil Alexandra Banin and freshman sabre Jacqueline Hua also finished undefeated. Sophomore epee Pauline Hamilton performed very well in California and finished the Invitational with a record of 7-1.

“Pauline also had a really good day,” Moss said. “She only dropped one bout to somebody who was All-American at NCAAs and it was by one touch in overtime.”

NU is now 20-3 on the season, the best start to a campaign since the 2014-15 season. Despite the Cats’ great start, they are not finished improving. One thing Moss said he wants to see the team improve upon is making mid-bout adjustments when they get frustrated.

Curzon said the team’s chemistry and support throughout the long competition was a highlight of the weekend, as it has been a focus for the team throughout the season.

“We had learned a lot in the fall about how our energy needs to be consistent and how we really need to support everyone, even if one individual is not doing well,” Curzon said. “I think that is exactly what happened this weekend.”

Correction: A previous version of this story said the foil team went 5-4 against Air Force. They went 4-5.

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