Fencing: After a subpar start to the season, the Cats hope for another top ten finish

Carlos Stinson-Maas, Reporter

A year ago, Northwestern fencing was 16-1, off to one of the best starts in program history. They would go on to finish sixth in the country, capping off a season that was “historically good and one of the best years in our history, if not the best,” according to coach Zach Moss.

This time around has been less successful. NU looked like it would pick up where it left off last season, sweeping the fall NU duals, blowing out conference rivals Indiana, Purdue and Wisconsin along with wins against Chicago and Lawrence.

Every fencer finished the duals with a winning record for the Cats, including a 45-0 record in foil. Overall, NU went 126-9 on the day, stifling their competition in sabre, foil and epee.

But then, on Nov. 16, the Cats competed in the Elite Invitational, where they took on some of the top teams in the country.

“It was probably the hardest single weekend in my memory,” Moss said. “The level of competition, the caliber of opponents — that was definitely tough.”

NU went 1-5, dropping matches against Ohio State, Penn State, Cornell, Penn and Princeton. Their one win came in a 14-13 defeat of Harvard.

“We lost more than we would have liked,” Moss said. “But we were right in it in a lot of them.”

The Cats did come close in almost every match, and closed in to be one point away from defeating Ohio State and Penn. NU was led by sophomore epee Julia Falinska, who finished the invitational with a 9-3 record.

Most recently, the Cats competed in the January North American Cup in Charlotte, N.C. The competition served as an opportunity for NU’s fencers to compete individually and develop their skills.

Freshman sabre Ilsa Hoffman turned in an impressive performance, finishing fifth in junior sabre and beating an Olympian en route to a 36th place finish in Division I sabre.

“I was really impressed with her fencing,” Moss said. “It’s difficult to finish that high, and that was a really strong competition.”

Overall, the Cats stand at 6-5 with most of the season ahead of them. This weekend they’ll travel to California to compete in the Western Invitational against Florida, Stanford, UCSD, Incarnate Word, and Air Force. Last season, NU went unbeaten in the invitational — and this year hopes to do the same.

“I would like us to go undefeated on the weekend,” Moss said. “They’re all teams that we are capable of beating.”

Moss said he hopes to see his fencers step into new roles, come together as a cohesive team and hopefully produce winning results.

“Our record is not going to be as strong as last year,” Moss said. “But we have a really good chance to be a top-ten team again this year. That’s what I anticipate.”

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