GREENWICH VILLAGE, N.Y. -- With 21 men and 19 women on the Columbia fencing teams, and just nine to 12 seeing time in the average meet, there are going to be a number of idle Lions at every event.
Head coach Michael Aufrichtig has done all he can to remedy that by substituting freely. In Thursday's Historical Meet Plus at NYU, Aufrichtig packed the lineups with reserves and it cost Columbia two wins.
Both the men's and women's teams fell to Sacred Heart of Connecticut in the opening round of the night, each by 15-12 scores. However, the Lion fencers fought back, sweeping both Vassar and the host NYU Violets.
Although Sacred Heart has racked up some impressive wins, twice beating Yale this season, Aufrichtig was hardly ready to concede two victories to the Pioneers.
"I told the team that Sacred Heart would come out fighting," he said. Nevertheless, he noted, the Lions would have won both matches if all three weapon squads had fenced up to their potential. In the women's meet, it was sabre that faltered, losing six of nine bouts against the Pioneers, yet going 17-1 the rest of the night. Men's sabre led the way in its part of the Sacred Heart match, going a perfect 9-0 behind Will Spear, Mel Rodriguez, and Rienzi Gokea. But men's foil and epee were a combined 3-15.
Just two more victories in each competition, the coach noted, would have allowed the Lions to notch two wins.
Despite the opening losses, Columbia never got down, thanks in part to the large number of first-string fencers who went to NYU even though they knew they would not be fencing.
"Everyone supported their teammates," Aufrichtig said, "even the ones who weren't fencing. Many of them came up to me and volunteered to go in.
The coach did take Sarah Gruman up on her offer. After competing, as usual, in sabre, where she won five of seven, she filled in at epee when Natalie Gegan was injured, and posted an important win.
"This was a learning experience," the coach said. "A number of our fencers now know what it takes to win in varsity matches."
Sabre paced the men's team, winning 21 of 27, as Spear, Rodriguez and Gokea each went 5-1. Justin Hahn and Andrei Tapai each were 6-3 in epee, and Angad Singh was 5-4. Bo Charles and Kyle Doyle led foil with 3-3 marks; both Doyle, a sophomore from Mendham, N.J., and Sekou Harris, a first-year from Brooklyn, had the best events of their college careers.
Sabre led the women's effort, going 20-7 as Sara Yee (7-2), Laura Hunter-Thomas (5-0) and Sarah Gruman (5-2) excelled. Sophomore Diana Tsinis was 8-1 in epee, while senior co-captain D'Meca Homer and sophomore Dianna Hohensee led foil with 7-2 marks.
Ivy League rules limit squads to 15 men and 15 women fencers for the Ivy League Championships. However, Aufrichtig, buoyed by his fencers' efforts, told them at the conclusion of the Historical Meet, "I would bring you all to the Ivy League Championships if I could."
Columbia was scheduled to leave Friday for the Ivy League Championships at Harvard, but that was postponed due to the oncoming blizzard.
Today's scores and leaders:
The Historical Meet, Plus
Coles Gymnasium, New York University
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Men's Fencing (2-1)
12-15 Sacred Heart, 16-11 Vassar, 20-7 NYU
Leaders: Will Spear (S), 5-1; Mel Rodriguez (S), 5-1; Rienzi Gokea (S), 5-1; Justin Hahn (E), 6-3; Andrei Tapai (E), 6-3; Michael Josephs (S), 4-2; Angad Singh (E), 5-4
Women's Fencing (2-1)
12-15 Sacred Heart, 23-4 Vassar, 19-8 NYU
Leaders: Diana Tsinis (E), 8-1; Dianna Hohensee (F), 7-2; D'Meca Homer (F), 7-2; Sara Yee (S), 7-2; Camille Gallardo (E), 6-3; Laura Hunter-Thomas (S), 5-0; Sarah Gruman (S), 5-2