Fencers Triumphant at Brandeis Invite, Sweeping 10 of 10 Matches
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Mike McLaughlin
WALTHAM, Mass. -- In a result that was expected, but impressive nonetheless, Columbia Fencing swept all 10 of its matches in the Brandeis Invitational at the Gosman Athletic Center Sunday. The Lion men and women took the measure of one intersectional opponent, the Air Force Academy; Johns Hopkins of Baltimore; and three local schools -- the host Judges, Boston College and MIT.
"I'm pleased with our results today," head coach Michael Aufrichtig said. "Although we knew we were better than the teams we fenced, and expected to defeat them, they posted strong challenges in individual bouts throughout the afternoon, and we were forced to fence well on numerous occasions."
Aufrichtig and his staff substituted freely, using both veterans and newcomers in the same weapon.
"I was particularly pleased with our freshmen," he said. Columbia has 13 freshmen, most of whom made the trip. "We were able to see them fence in pressure situations. That's experience we will need later in the season."
The Lions faced pressure right from the start, when they took on Air Force, a ranking national team. Men and women both won by comfortable margins, 21-6 for the men and 18-9 for the women, but the scores were deceptive, as Columbia fought several battles.
The first-years' effects were particularly appreciated in women's epee, which beat Air Force, 7-2, behind a trio of freshmen. Nina Moiseiwitsch won all three of her bouts, while Vivian Rand and Mason Speta each won two of three.
Drew Johnston led the men against the Falcons, going 3-0 in men's foil, while Chris Ahn was 2-1 in men's sabre.
The veterans got into the act, too, as junior Will Spear in sabre, sophomore Adam Mathieu in foil, and sophomore Brian Ro in epee all went 3-0. In the women's match, sophomore Jackie Dubrovich was 3-0 in foil, including a 5-4 clutch victory over Air Force ace Mary McElwee, and sophomore Sarah Yee was 2-0 in sabre.
Another veteran, junior Nzingha Prescod, has offered to move from her accustomed foil, where she is a ranking world standout, to sabre, a weapon in which Columbia lacks experienced competitors. She lost her first two bouts, but earned a rousing ovation from her teammates when she beat Ally Egan in the third round.
Against Brandeis, Columbia overcame the Judges' home court advantage with 20-7 (men) and 23-4 (women) triumphs. Several women went 3-0, including Prescod, Dubrovich, and three frosh -- Rand and Speta in epee, and Jessie Laffey in foil. First-year sabrist Michael Costin was 3-0 in sabre, with sophomore epeeist Jake Hoyle and Mathieu posting the same marks.
Brian Ro and Vivian Rand had impressive come-from-behind 5-4 wins. The latter rallied from a 4-3 deficit to tie her bout and send it into overtime, which she won.
Come-from-behind triumphs were the order of the day, as Columbia captured a sizable number. Sophomore sabreman Geoff Loss, for instance, fell behind Paul Vitale of Johns Hopkins, 4-0 -- just one touch from a defeat -- and then scored five straight touches for the win! Prescod beat Lisa Avery of MIT, 5-3, after trailing, 3-1.
Matched in her last three matches against the opponent's No. 1 sabrist, in order to hone her skills, Prescod came through again and again. She defeated Rachel Kalina of Johns Hopkins in a protracted battle, 5-4, holding off a determined Kalina charge.
It's very rare for a foil fencer to switch to sabre, but Prescod is making it work. She was 7-2 on the day.
The transition isn't that hard, she noted. "I just have to remember what to do, to focus, and eliminate unforced errors. It's good training for foil. Sabre is a lot more fun, you can be more creative."
Some of the Lions will compete in the North American Cup in Dallas December 13-16, but they won't compete as a team until the Penn State Invitational January 11, 2014.

Today's results:

Brandeis Invitational
(Columbia, Air Force, Brandeis, Boston College, Johns Hopkins, MIT)
Gosman Athletic Center, Brandeis University
Sunday, December 8, 2013

MEN'S TEAM (5-0)

Columbia 21, Air Force 6
S: Spear 3-0, Ahn 2-1, Costin 0-2, Gokea 1-0 (6-3 combined)
F: Mathieu 3-0, Bergman 2-1, Johnston 3-0 (8-1)
E: Ro 3-0, Hoyle 2-1, Wan 2-1 (7-2)

Columbia 20, Brandeis 7
S: Spear 2-1, Costin 3-0, Ahn 2-1 (7-2)
F: Mathieu 3-0, Bergman 2-1, Johnston 2-1 (7-2)
E: Ro 2-1, Hoyle 3-0, Wan 1-2 (6-3)

Columbia 24, Boston College 3
S: Josephs 3-0, Loss 3-0, Gokea 2-1 (8-1)
F: Bergman 3-0, Johnston 3-0, Pensler 3-0 (9-0)
E:  Wan 3-0, Tapai 3-0, Singh 1-2 (7-2)

Columbia 23, Johns Hopkins 4
S: Gokea 3-0, Josephs 3-0, Loss 3-0 (9-0)
F: Bergman 3-0, Johnston 3-0, Pensler 3-0 (9-0)
E: Ro 2-1, Tapai 2-1, Singh 1-2 (5-4)

Columbia 19, MIT 8
S: Costin 2-1, Ahn 3-0, Gokea 2-1 (7-2)
F: Mathieu 3-0, Pensler 3-0, Johnston 3-0 (9-0)
E: Ro 1-2, Hoyle 1-2, Tapai 1-1, Singh 0-1 (3-6)

Leaders: Mathieu 9-0, Pensler 9-0, Josephs 6-0, Loss 6-0, Johnston 14-1, Bergman 10-2, Ro 8-4.


Columbia 18, Air Force 9
S: Yee 2-0, Boenning 2-1, Prescod 1-2, Freeman 0-1 (5-4)
F: Dubrovich 3-0, Lu 1-2, Laffey 2-1 (6-3)
E: Rand 2-1, Speta 2-1, Moiseiwitsch 3-0 (7-2)

Columbia 23, Brandeis 4
S: Yee 2-0, Boenning 2-1, Prescod 3-0, Freeman 0-1 (7-2)
F: Dubrovich 3-0, Lu 2-1, Laffey 3-0 (8-1)
E: Rand 3-0, Speta 3-0, Moiseiwitsch 2-1 (8-1)

Columbia 16, Boston College 11
S: Yee 3-0, Boenning 2-1, Prescod 1-0, Freeman 0-2 (6-3)
F: Dubrovich 3-0,Taffel 3-0, Laffey 3-0 (9-0)
E: Rand 0-3, Speta 1-2, Green 0-3 (1-8)

Columbia 17, Johns Hopkins 10
S: Yee 2-1, Boenning 0-3, Freeman 0-2, Prescod 1-0 (3-6)
F: Lu 3-0, Laffey 3-0, Taffel 3-0 (9-0)
E: Speta 2-1, Green 0-3, Moiseiwitsch 3-0 (5-4)

Columbia 20, MIT 7
S: Yee 2-1, Boenning 1-2, Freeman 0-2, Prescod 1-0 (4-5)
F: Dubrovich 3-0, Lu 3-0, Taffel 3-0 (9-0)
E: Rand 2-1, Speta 2-0, Moiseiwitsch 2-1, Green 1-0 (7-2)

Leaders: Dubrovich 12-0, Taffel 9-0, Laffey 11-1, Yee 11-2, Moiseiwitsch 10-2, Speta 10-4, Lu 9-3