Brewers battle top-ranked foes in year’s hardest matches

Sophomore Sophie Blumenstock defeats Division I competition at Sacred Heart Traditional Tournament. On Jan. 21, the team will next travel to Ohio to compete in the Cleveland Invitational. Courtesy of Carlisle Stockton

This past Sunday, the Vassar College women’s fencing team traveled to Fairfield, CT to compete in six matches at the Sacred Heart Traditional Tournament. Up against some of the toughest opponents in the country, the team showed great resilience and a lot of heart while battling some of the best opponents they will see this season.

The Brewers competed against players from Harvard, Sacred Heart, New York University, Princeton, Temple and Penn State. Unfortunately, the squad was not able to pull out a team win at the end of the day. They started off with a tough 23-4 loss to Harvard, ranked No. 4 nationally, and then fell to Sacred Heart University in a close match 17-10. Vassar then lost to NYU 18-9 and were defeated by No. 3 Princeton University 24-3. In their last two matches of the day, the team lost 21-6 to Penn State, who is No. 8 nationally and then to No. 9 Temple University 25-2.

Even though the squad went 0-5 for the day, some members of the VC women’s fencing team battled against some of the best fencers in the country. From the epee team, seniors Olivia Weiss and Rose Hulsey-Vincent were able to pull through with a victory, both defeating Harvard’s Julia Carstens. Sophomore Sophie Blumenstock also had an exciting match, beating a senior foil from the Harvard team 5-2.

In their closest match of the day, the Brewers had a strong showing from the epee squad, giving the team a 5-4 win, along with the foil team, led by Blumenstock, senior Elsa Stoff and sophomore Mirit Rutishauser, who all contributed pulling off a strong 6-3 win. However, the Brewers struggled to find some wins against the Sacred Heart sabre team, who won all nine bouts to ensure their victory.

Against NYU, the Vassar squad put up a good fight, but in the end were unable to come out victorious. However, some individuals were able to rack up some wins, including Weiss who was able to secure three more wins alongside Hulsey-Vincent, who won two bouts. Freshman epee Samantha Lottick also was able to come out victorious in a close 5-4 win. The foil team reached success in three bouts, but it was not enough to defeat the NYU Violets.

Next up, VC took home three wins against the third-ranked team in the country, Princeton, coming from Hulsey-Vincent, Weiss and Blumenstock.

Against Penn State, the six bout wins came from Weiss, Hulsey-Vincent, Rutishauser and Stoff. Finally, against Temple University Weiss and freshman Stephanie Gull picked up more victories.

Although the Brewers did not pick up an overall win, individual performance was strong. For Vassar, Weiss had the most wins with 10 on the day while Hulsey-Vincent recorded seven.

Back for his 12th season coaching for Vassar, Coach Bruce Gillman has been an influential part in the growth that the team has seen over the past few years. He was happy with how the team performed on Sunday, especially against such tough competitors. “The team performed very well, considering the high level of competition,” he explained.

Gillman noted specific players who stepped up and did not let the tougher competition affect their performance. “Olivia Weiss and Rose Hulsey-Vincent on the epee squad and Elsa Stoff, Sophie Blumenstock and Mirit Rutishauser on the foil squad. All upped their games yesterday and had some great wins and close losses,” Gillman mentioned.

In terms of the rest of the season, Gillman places an emphasis on consistency as they continue their season into January. He added, “The team should be aided by the return of standout fencers juniors Kirsten Denman and Annie Inness-Gold if they can seamlessly slot into the base that the others have created this past semester.”

Blumenstock has been an integral part of this year’s fencing squad as she claimed 12 wins for Vassar thus far. Although this time of year is busy for everyone, Blumenstock was proud of the way the team focused in on the task at hand rather than let the stress of finals impact their performance. She explained, “On paper, maybe not the best result, but this meet is our most challenging of the year. We’re a Division III team and we fenced all Division I teams today, pretty much just because we can. They’re some of the top teams in the country, so we just had fun fencing really great people.”

In terms of upperclassmen who have influenced the team, Blumenstock specifically points out the seniors. “Olivia Weiss and Elsa Stoff are such supportive squad leaders for epee and foil, respectively. They both are great at coaching,” she shared. Having two seniors who have both great leadership qualities and fencing ability is a formula for a successful and capable team.

For the rest of the season, Blumenstock knows that the team has to focus on staying resilient as they continue. She pointed out, “Next semester is our busiest time of the season. We have a meet almost every weekend from the end of winter break to the start of spring break.” With this mentality, Blumenstock reiterates the importance of stamina as the season continues.

Off to a solid 11-9 start, the team is showing a lot of promise for the rest of the season. With senior leadership and tough competition that is pushing them to become a better team, the Vassar women’s fencing squad is going into the second half of their season confidently. The team will take a reprieve from matches until the end of January when they continue their season in Cleveland, OH to compete in the Cleveland invitational.

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