Fencing: Aside from loss to Notre Dame, Wildcats have spotless weekend


Source: Northwestern Athletics

A Northwestern fencer prepares to attack. The Wildcats turned in a mostly successful weekend at the DeCicco Duals last weekend, going 10-1.

Peter Warren, Assistant Sports Editor


At the DeCicco Duals in Indiana, Northwestern knew it was going to be heavy favorites against every team except one: defending national champion No. 1 Notre Dame.

Though the No. 8 Wildcats were able to easily handle their lesser opponents, they fell to the host Fighting Irish 17-10 on the first day of the two-day competition.

“The final score was solid, but the match itself did not go the way we would have liked, the way we would have planned,” coach Zach Moss said. “They got ahead really early by a pretty significant margin. We clawed our way back, but it was a little too little, a little too late.”

None of the three squads — epee, foil or sabre — finished with a winning record against Notre Dame. Epee and sabre went 3-6 while foil finished 4-5.

Moss said he was impressed with the performances of freshman foil Sarah Filby and senior sabre Emine Yücel against the Fighting Irish. Both collected two wins in three bouts against the hosts. One of Filby’s victories was over Sabrina Massialas, who won a junior world championship in 2016.

Junior foil Sharon Chen said the team is going to use the loss as a learning experience to better prepare for its next bout with Notre Dame.

“I feel like the Notre Dame matchup was more of a test to see what was the best way to fence against them, the best way to fight against each individual,” Chen said.

The Notre Dame loss was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect weekend for the Cats. NU did not lose more than five bouts against any of its other 10 opponents.

The Cats finished with three sweeps as they defeated Clemson, Florida and McKendree all 27-0. They also dropped only one bout to Detroit-Mercy and only two bouts each to Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue.

“While the scores don’t necessarily indicate all that much, the thing that we felt was really positive was how well the team worked match-to-match,” Moss said. “We are the heavy favorite in all of these matches, and the team didn’t let that change how they approached each bout and each match.”

Overall, 27 NU fencers competed over the weekend, and all 27 left South Bend with a winning record. In addition, 10 of those 27 ended the weekend with undefeated records and nine fencers finished will only one loss.

Freshman sabre Zhesi Zhuang picked up the most wins over the weekend with 18, while sophomore foil Alexandra Banin and senior foil Sydney Larrier had the most victories, 11, without losing a single bout.

“We have gotten much better at beating teams that we know we should beat, and we have gotten stronger in terms of preparing ourselves to face the big teams like Notre Dame,” sophomore epee Adelle Berdichevsky said.

The 11 matchups were the most the Cats had competed in over a two-day stretch so far this season.

Despite the long weekend and distractions that came with it, Chen said her teammates did a good job being supportive of one another.

“Being a team means more than winning,” Chen said. “Throughout the entire thing, it is very tempting to not be engaged: wander off, go do work, go to the bathroom, get food, take a nap. But we all made the effort to stay together during each round to support each other.”

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