Fencing: Women’s team hopes to make adjustments from the Philadelphia Invitational to the DeCicco Duals this weekend


Daily file photo by Brian Meng

A Northwestern fencer faces off with her opponent. The Wildcats have faced a difficult slate of matchups so far.

Aayushya Agarwal, Reporter


Northwestern fencing did not receive the results it was hoping to achieve this past Sunday in the Philadelphia Invitational.

NU lost to Penn 14-13, Columbia 19-8, Temple 17-10 and succumbed to both Princeton and Yale 16-11. While the Wildcats suffered close defeats as a team, there were several notable individual performances. The epee team defeated Princeton 5-4, went toe-to-toe with Columbia in a 5-4 loss and beat Penn 6-3. Senior Julia Falinska went 7-3 on the day, and freshman Asha Henry went 2-1.

Other standout achievements included graduate student foil Sarah Filby going 7-4, junior foil Julia Shalansky sweeping a strong Yale foil team 3-0 and junior saber Thea Nguyen going 5-3, including a 3-0 shutout of Temple.

Coach Zach Moss praised his team’s ability to finish its matches with intensity and effort despite starting off slowly.

“While (our efforts) didn’t ultimately result in the match wins we were looking for, the ability to stick to the process and improve throughout the day will pay dividends in future competitions as the season progresses,” Moss said.

At the same time, the players shared a similar high-spirited attitude about this past weekend’s competition. Sophomore saber Levi Hoogendoorn, said she noticed several positives about her team’s performance.

“The general consensus was that the tournament went well,” Hoogendoorn said. “Everyone had good bouts and good touches, and we gave each other energy, support, and lots of cheering throughout the day. We’ll definitely be taking this (past) weekend’s approach into the next few tournaments.”

Although the Wildcats had a tough time pulling off victories, Moss acknowledged the immense level of competition the team was up against in Philadelphia. Additionally, he said, the Cats have not fenced many high-quality fencers in a while.

“This was the strongest group of opponents we’ve had in a single day of competition in two years due to the pandemic, and I think that caught us a little by surprise,” Moss said. “While we have some very experienced fencers on this team, we also have a lot of fencers who have never experienced the grind of a full season and this type of environment.”

Nonetheless, Moss said he understood the adjustments that needed to be made for upcoming competitions, but at the same time, he feels as though the teams need to stay sharp throughout the week.

“The main change we need to make is to be more consistent from the beginning of the day and figure out how best to get ourselves into a rhythm sooner,” Moss said. “Going into this weekend’s event, we may tweak a few aspects of our training and emphasize a few different elements.”

The team shared similar thoughts about personal adjustments to make to receive more successful outcomes.

Reflecting on her performance from this past weekend, junior foil Anna Biasco said she hopes to make timely changes to her approach.

“Personally, fencing strong right from the start of the day is something that I am really working on,” Biasco said. “I am also working on being able to reset between rounds, especially given the amount we are going to have this upcoming weekend.”

This weekend, NU travels to South Bend, Indiana, to participate in the DeCicco Duals. The team will be fencing nine teams at the conference, including No. 1 Notre Dame.

Moss said his team’s goal for this weekend, particularly against the top program in the country, was to overcome past results.

“Last time we fenced (Notre Dame) we lost 15-12, losing each weapon 5-4. We’re hoping to be able to improve on that result this weekend,” Moss said. “Our goal is to win all of our meets at this event. Notre Dame certainly represents the biggest challenge of this weekend, but all of these teams are well-coached with good athletes.”

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