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Men's, women's teams come out strong in MIT fencing tournament

The women's fencing team went a perfect 5-0, and the men posted a 3-2 record in the first half of the Northeast Fencing Conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Nov. 20.

The women's team dominated all their opponents, defeating Boston University 21-6 , Sacred Heart University 21-6, University of New Hampshire 19-8 and Wellesley 18-9. Men's fencing demolished BU and University of Massachusetts at Amherst by an impressive score of 24-3 and took down UNH 22-5. The male fencers were narrowly defeated by Boston College and SHU, dropping 14-13 decisions in each case.

In the standard group tournament, squads of three in each weapon compete against another school's trio. Each member fences in three bouts, resulting in nine bouts per weapon and 27 total bouts against the opposing school. Each bout is short­ — the first to five touches on the opponent wins.

"There's no room for mistake," Head Coach Atilio Tass said. "You have to have the right moment."

Cory Abbe '13, one of the strongest fencers on the women's epee squad, won 17 out of her 18 bouts ­— the most bouts by any single fencer on the Brown team. Overall, the squad won 44 bouts out of 54, led by Abbe and Laney Caldwell '14, who went 15-2 on the day.

"We fenced our best," Abbe said. "I was hoping we'd win them all."

 She said she thought that Wellesley, BC and SHU were the strongest teams in the competition, other than Brandeis, who won the women's NFC overall last season.

Abbe also noted the difference in performance between the saber team and the foil and epee squads. The saber team won just 26 out of its 52 bouts.

"We might not be getting in as many victories with saber, so foil and epee tried to make up for it," she said.

Four of the six members of the women's saber team are walk-ons with little fencing experience.

But Andrea Sassenrath '14 of the saber squad maintained a positive outlook. She said that she was "getting the hang of it" and that, though the squad was two-thirds freshmen, the other school's squads "couldn't really tell, I hope." Sassenrath compiled a 2-5 record at the event.

"That's our one area to ... build it up," Coach Tass said. For now, he said "the one holding up the flag" is Caitlin Taylor '13. Taylor went 14-1 in the tournament.

Women's foil achieved the same score as women's epee, 44-10. Avery Nackman '13 went undefeated in 14 bouts, Kathryn Hawrot '14 won 13 of 14 and captain Yukiko Kunitomo '12  took 10 of 13 bouts.

Men's foil did well last weekend as well, winning 36 of 45 bouts. Men's saber went 33 out of 45 in another impressive showing. The saber squad included Brandon Tomasso '13, a promising newcomer who started fencing last year and who said he was "very impressed" by his new teammates' performances. Tomasso finished with a record of 3-2.

Clarence Ho '14, a newcomer on the epee squad that took 27 of their 45 bouts, cited the strong epee teams at SHU and BC as reasons for the team's uneven results.

"We could've done better," he said, but noted that he still thought Brown's epee lineup was strong.

When asked if this was a good start to the team season, Coach Tass had no direct reply. But he did point to the first-place trophy from last year's NFC, which now stands prominently in his office.


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