Last night, the Harvard men’s and women’s fencing teams took home six wins and bragging rights, battling Brandeis, Boston College, and MIT at the Malkin Athletic Center and taking home the Beanpot title for the fifth-straight year.
Coming off strong performances at the Ivy League Championship last weekend, the Crimson used a combination of experienced leadership and strong walk-on performances to post its largest series of victories this season and hold on to both the men’s and women’s titles for yet another year.
“It was kind of expected that we would win this competition again this year,” said junior foil specialist Thomas Snell. “The Beanpot is a great competition and an easier competition for us to have right after Ivies. We would have been really disappointed if we had lost any matches here at the Beanpot.”
“It was a good performance by all of our people,” Harvard coach Peter Brand added. “We were resting some of our usual starters who fenced last weekend at Ivies, so this was a good chance for us to give some of our walk-ons a chance to fence, and they all did exceptionally well. I am very happy with the results of both the men and women tonight.”
In the first match of the one-day round-robin style tournament, the No. 3 Harvard men’s fencing team sparred against MIT and soundly defeated its Cambridge rivals, 21-6.
The Crimson followed up its dominant performance against the Engineers with an equally strong victory against Boston College, 20-7. The squad then closed out the tournament against Brandeis and recorded its largest margin of victory of the season, 22-5.
Leading Harvard for the second week in a row was co-captain Valentin Staller, who stood undefeated for the evening, posting an individual record of 9-0. Major contributions from some of the squad’s rookies, including foilist Brian Kaneshige, also keyed the Crimson to victory.
As part of a gradual return to competition, sophomore Lucas Lin earned a victory on Tuesday night.
“[Lin] is coming off a severe injury to his hand, but tonight he looked great and it looks like he’s coming back strongly. We had fantastic performances tonight and I am hoping that carries over to the Regional event in a couple of weeks.”
For the men’s foil division, the Beanpot tournament served to reinforce the new-found dominance of the squad. Over the course of the night, the foil group—led by Kaneshige and Lin—would only drop three matches against its Boston rivals to emerge from the Beanpot with a stellar record of 24-3.
The story was similar on the women’s side, as the No. 7 Harvard women’s squad dominated throughout the tournament, outscoring its opponents 65-16.
In the first match of the night for the women, the Crimson outdueled the Engineers, 21-6. The squad went on to best the Eagles, 20-7, before cruising past the Judges, 22-5.
Sophomore Alexandra Kiefer, freshman Emma Vaggo and senior Caroline Vloka each led the team for the second week in a row, helping Harvard to soundly defeat its trio of local opponents. Kiefer, Vaggo, and Vloka were unbeaten on the night in the foil, epee, and sabre, respectively.
With the end of the regular season, the Crimson now begin a three-week-long training regimen as it prepares for its next challenges during the NCAA Regionals and the eventual NCAA Championship.
“We are going to take a little break for now,” Brand said. “We have quite a few injuries on the team that we have to deal with, but we are going to pick up things against next week and start preparing for the NCAA Regional Tournament. We are looking to qualify the maximum—which is 12 fencers—for the National Championship held in Ohio this year.”
—Staff writer Oluwatoni A. Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.