Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Fencing: Northwestern bolsters chemistry at Philadelphia Invitational

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Daily file photo by Seeger Gray
Two Northwestern fencers prepare for competition.

After last weekend’s Tufts Invitational, No.12 Northwestern put progress at the forefront during Sunday’s Philadelphia Invitational. 

The Wildcats started with a 15-12 loss to No. 5 Duke and a 14-13 loss to No. 16 Penn. Foil victories of 6-3 and 5-4 shone through Sunday morning, but weren’t enough to make up NU’s point deficit. 

“We’re still trying to gain some momentum in terms of wins and losses, but I feel like the team energy, the way we’re working together as a group, was where we want it to be,” said head coach Zach Moss. 

The ’Cats bounced back with a resounding 26-1 victory against Drew to start their afternoon in the Keystone State. Moss’ squad swiftly followed the victory up with a 22-5 roundhousing of NJIT. 

But NU came up short against No. 6 Yale, losing 15-12 in its last clash of the tournament, despite a 5-4 saber triumph.

“There’s some unique facility challenges that make it a difficult environment, but that’s a great opportunity to overcome some adversity, and it’s also why I’m really proud of how our team worked together,” Moss said, clearing his throat from a day of yelling through the cacophony of Penn’s facility.

A window glare from one side of the main fencing hall meant that teams regularly switched sides to avoid competitive imbalances, and fencers put tape on their masks to block some of the light. The sheer volume of noise in the space added extra pressure.

But, freshman foilist Karina Vasile said, that’s just part of the sport. 

“There are a lot of external factors that could potentially have an impact on your fencing,” Vasile said. “You can’t get rid of them all, and you kind of have to learn to deal with them and still put up your best fencing, focus on what you’re doing and not think about everything else happening.”

Vasile made her dual debut at the tournament, coming off of a schedule chock-full of international competition as a member of the Romanian National Team. 

She said it was an eventful start to collegiate competition.

“It was a little overwhelming in the beginning because there were just like so many people,” Vasile said. “Everyone was shouting and screaming, and like all that energy was like a lot, but it honestly felt so good.” 

Vasile fenced bouts against Duke, Penn and Yale — and even had the chance to face a familiar foe for her final fight.

Vasile has encountered Kristina Petrova, a Yale freshman and fencer for the Ukrainian National team, multiple times in international competitions. 

“It’s like always tied, because she’s a really good fencer as well, so that was a very important bout for me,” Vasile said. “I had to be locked in, ready to get in, and I won that bout, and everyone was just there, shouting with me. That was a really nice moment.”

Vasile said the college environment differs greatly from international competition. For one thing, players on national teams don’t necessarily train together, which can make it harder to form a sense of community. 

At the collegiate level, she said, it’s a different story. 

“You have so many moments you spend together and you’re so well connected as a group … it feels really nice and you feel like you can rely on each other,” Vasile said. “Everyone has everyone’s back.”

The ’Cats compete at the DeCicco Duals in South Bend, Indiana on Saturday. They’ll face a bevy of teams, but the tournament will be highlighted by a matchup against No. 2 Notre Dame.

“On any given day, we can be better than them, and they can be better than us,” Moss said. “So it’s just about who believes that and carrying that energy forward from this weekend, the momentum that we started to build, and not giving them an inch.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @roselcarlson

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