The North Carolina fencing team fared well at the Brandeis Invitational in Waltham, Massachusetts. The women notched a 5-1 record while the men went 4-2.
On the women’s side, UNC dominated Brown and host Brandeis with scores of 23-4 and 22-5, respectively. The UNC women added a 19-8 win over conference foe Boston College. MIT and Cornell provided stiffer competition but the Tar Heels pulled through on each occasion.
Against Cornell, women’s sabre was the difference in UNC’s 15-12 win. UNC took sabre 6-3 and epee 5-4 while Cornell claimed foil at 5-4. The story was the same against MIT, as an 8-1 performance in sabre propelled the Tar Heels to the 16-11 victory.
The women's only loss of the day came in a 15-12 defeat against Yale.
The Tar Heel men engaged in tight battles all day as they scored wins over Cornell, Boston College, MIT and Brandeis.
Similar to the women, UNC’s men edged opponents behind strong performances in sabre. Against Cornell and Boston College, UNC dominated sabre with 8-1 wins. The Tar Heels defeated Cornell, 17-10, and Boston College, 15-12.
UNC’s match against MIT was the only time the men fell in sabre. But two 5-4 wins in foil and epee gave the Tar Heels the 14-13 win. In its 15-12 victory against Brandeis, the UNC men posted another impressive sabre performance, dominating 7-2.
The Tar Heel men fell to Brown (15-12) and Yale (18-9) but edged each Ivy League foe in sabre.
Coach Ron Miller said the team’s success in sabre came from experience and familiarity.
“That is our most experienced weapon in terms of both are upperclassmen and our freshmen coming in," he said. "They have the experience. They’ve fenced at this level of competition before."
“The officials know them, which makes a difference because that weapon is very subjective. It’s just something we’re a little more comfortable with.”
Who stood out?
The first-years were the story on the women’s side.
Carlexa Fevry and Wei Chee Chen turned in impressive performances for the Tar Heels, going 13-2 and 8-2, respectively. First-year Jackie Litynski had the best record of the day for UNC at 14-1 in women’s sabre.
Two men’s sabre competitors stood out for the Tar Heels. Sophomore Connor Ritchey led the group at 14-4, while fellow sophomore Matthew Garrelick went 12-5.
Why does it matter?
The Brandeis Invitational was the Tar Heels' last competition of 2016. UNC faced tough opponents, particularly in Ivy League foes Yale and Cornell. Not fencing again until mid-January, the Tar Heels can build on a solid performance like this one as the season heats up in a month’s time.
Miller said the competition gave his fencers experience against formidable competition.
“All in all, good weekend, good day," he said. "We learned a lot. Experimented a lot with our starting lineups and really gained some valuable experience."
“It was good to fence teams that were at our level.”
Along with ending the year on a high note, the Tar Heels knocked off a conference foe in Boston College. UNC will likely see Boston College in the ACC Championships; this prior exposure could prepare the team for future matches against the Golden Eagles.
Where do they play next?
North Carolina will travel to College Station, Pennsylvania, to face Penn State on Jan. 15.
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