The Harvard men's fencing team lost its first non-Ivy League contest in two years to an emotionally charged Brandeis team, 15-12, last night in Waltham. But the women's squad slashed the Judges, 11-5, to give Harvard a split on the evening.
"We were the better team," epee fencer Jim O'Neil said. "We weren't excited and they were pretty psyched to beat us."
Harvard held only one, brief lead in the match, 2-1, before finally yielding a tough round one, 5-4, to the Judges. Round two was even tougher for Harvard, as it was blown away, 7-2, and slipped behind in the match, 12-6.
The Crimson rallied in the final round, taking five consecutive bouts to close the Brandeis lead to 12-11. But Brandeis won the two crucial points to crush the Harvard rally.
"We had a really bad second round," O'Neil said. "We gave it a good effot in the final round, but 12-6 is too big a deficit. We were back in the meet, but they closed it out."
Ray McCarthy led the Crimson effort by winning all three of his bouts. However, the usually dependable epee fencers were disappointing as they only won two of their nine bouts.
"It was a disappointing performance," O'Neil said. "[Epee is] usually our strongest weapon."
Harvard next faces traditional Ivy powerhouses Penn and Columbia this weekend in New York.
"It's our season in a weekend," O'Neil said. "Our main focus is winning the Ivy championship."
"We have to get our act in gear," Captain Kevin McCarthy said. "There's no real excuse for the loss, and Penn and Columbia are much better than Brandeis."
Foiling the Judges
While the men fell to the Judges, the swordswomen topped Brandeis, 11-5.
"We looked really good," sophomore Captain Penelope Papailias said. "We were fencing much better and getting our touches more cleanly."
Although Harvard (now 3-0) never trailed in the meet, it was unable to completely shake the scrappy Brandeis squad. The match was nip-and-tuck until the end, when Papailias and Kristina Perkin both captured victories to secure the Harvard win.
Papailias won all four of her matches, extending her record to a perfect 12-0 on the season. Teammate Kristina Perkin is just a step behind Papailias with an almost perfect 11-1 record, as she also won all four of her bouts.
Adding to the Crimson triumph was freshman Michelle Kosch (3-1).