En Garde! 2017 brings more success for women’s fencing

Sophomore foil Sophie Blumenstock battles opponent in recent home match. Against Yale, Blumenstock recently collected 53rd career win. VC next faces seven opponents in Medford, MA. / Courtesy of Carlisle Stockton

Following a seven-week hiatus from competition, the women’s fencing team had a huge day on Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Cleveland State Duals in Cleveland, OH. Despite the incredibly long bus ride to Cleveland and the long break to celebrate the holidays, the Brewers were able to finish undefeated against Cleveland State University, Detroit, McKendree University, Case Western Reserve University and The University of Michigan. The six victories on the day left Vassar with an overall record of 17-9.

The Brewers competed against Cleveland State in both their first and last matches of the competition earning wins with scores of 23-4 and 21-6. Vassar then had a perfect match against Detroit, winning all 27 matches played. The Brewers then went on to win over the Bogeys of McKendree University and the Spartans of Case Western Reserve University with scores of 24-3 and 21-6 respectively. The closest match of the day, with a score of 19-8, was that against the Wolverines of the University of Michigan.

The sabre squad played particularly well in the final match against the host team, Cleveland State. Freshman Stephanie Gull and junior Annie Innes-Gold were both undefeated. This is especially impressive for Innes-Gold, as it was her fist time fencing this season following studying abroad in the fall.

In foil, sophomore Mirit Rutishauser had a career-best day, winning 12 out of 14 matches with her only two losses coming from Cleveland State. Weiss and sophomore Rose Hulsey-Vincent had strong days as well for the epee squad. Weiss and Hulsey-Vincent went 8-2 and 9-1 respectively.

The trip to Brown University was the Brewers’ first opportunity of the season to fence against members of the Northeast Fencing Conference. Throughout the day, Vassar had a 2-3 record defeating Brown and Tufts University while falling to Brandeis University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston College. The day started with a loss to the Brandeis Judges with a score of 20-7. The Boston College Eagles then handed the Brewers their second loss of the day in a nail-baiting 14-13 match.

However, the Brewers came off these early losses to fight for the program’s first ever win against the Brown Bears, in which Weiss went undefeated for the epee squad. This victory was just as close as the one loss against the Eagles, however in the third match the score was 14-13 in favor of the Brewers.

The sabre team was especially strong in the match against the Engineers, but the MIT epee and foil squads proved too much for the Brewers to handle. Ultimately, Vassar fell by a score of 17-10.

In the final competition of the day, the foil and epee teams bounced back strong, handing Tufts a big loss. The Brewer sabre team almost defeated the Jumbos, but they were out-matched and fell 5-4. Thanks to the strong performances in epee and foil, however, the Brewers ended the day on a high note by beating the Tufts Jumbos by a score of 15-12.

Innes-Gold had the strongest weekend while fencing at sabre. She garnered a weekend record of 13 wins with only two losses, one of which was from Brandeis and the other from Tufts. She defeated all of her opponents, going 9-0 against Boston College, Brown University and MIT.

The Brewers followed up their 2-3 weekend at Brown University by traveling to New Haven, CT just one week later. In New Haven, the Brewers were set to only face one non-conference opponent, Yale University.

Weiss commented, “The match at Yale is always challenging, but the team prepares by working on the mental aspect of fencing. Staying focused on each point is the key to fencing in a difficult match.” Despite the focus in practice, the Brewers fell to the Bulldogs by a score of 5-22. Although the overall outcome was not what the team had hoped for, many positive experiences came from the day of competition.

In sabre, Freshman Kati Kim won her first ever collegiate match by defeating Yale freshman Sam Wood by a score of 5-3. “Kati Kim started fencing just this past October. Her progress has been amazing in that short time. Her win against an experienced Division I sabre fencer is very encouraging,” stated Coach Gillman.

In epee, Weiss had a thrilling win in overtime against a Yale freshman. Weiss shared, “In the final women’s epee bout, I faced Yale’s Michelle Li. I scored the first touch, and then she tied it up at 1-1. My next action yielded a double touch, bringing the score to 2-2. With a single light, Li pulled ahead to 2-3, but I tied it up to 3-3. Another double touch made the score 4-4, with only a few seconds in regulation time remaining. When the time ran out a halt was called, and Yale was awarded priority with a coin toss: Yale would win the bout unless I scored a touch within the one-minute overtime period. I started to set up an attack to draw her forward and then suddenly dropped my point to hit her in the foot.”

In arguably the most notable performance of the day, Blumenstock picked up her 53rd career win, making her one of Vassar’s winningest current fencers.

Blumenstock humbly reflected, “I don’t really like to compare win-records with my teammates. It’s hard not to reduce fencing to numbers sometimes, but when you do you really ignore all of the different quirks and subtleties that come to play in a sport in which you compete one-on-one. We’re happy for each other when we win, especially at Yale and Columbia, and we support each other when we lose. It’s all part of being a team.”

Despite Blumenstock’s modesty, Coach Gillman gives her great credit. Coach Gillman commented, “Sophie has been fencing for a number of years and has worked very diligently to become better each year..”

As Yale is a Division I school, it is expected that the fencing will be a high level. Even though the team hoped for a win, they celebrated the little victories that came along with the day.

After their day of fun, the team is refocusing for a big day of competition ahead. On Saturday, Feb. 11 the squad will compete against Smith, the University of New Hampshire, Dartmouth, Boston University, Wellesley, Sacred Heart and the University of Massachusetts.

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