In fencing, it’s rare to have a perfect performance and even rarer to have that perfect performance at the first match of the year.
But that is what the women’s fencing team did its home and season opener. The Crimson (1-0) routed Wellesley (7-7) by a 27-0 score at the Malkin Athletic Center on Thursday evening. Harvard’s foil, sabre, and epee weapons all posted perfect 9-0 bout records in an impressive start to the season.
This was the second competition and first team matchup for the Crimson, which sent fencers to compete in the Penn State Open individually in November.
“On a team your result counts for the team result and not just your own,” sophomore foil fencer Hellary Zhang said. “And I personally think it’s a lot more fun that way. It is a lot more pressure, but at the end of the day you are fencing for something that is bigger than yourself, and that’s always really exciting.”
For the five new freshman on the Harvard team this was their first collegiate team matchup, but they held themselves like veterans en route to holding the Blue to zero match wins on the day.
“I’m really proud of how the team did today finishing 27-0,” junior foil fencer Liana Yamin said. “To be able to do that every bout even when more and more pressure adds on as you’re getting closer to the goal of 27 really shows how well we came together and supported each other.”
This team win builds upon strong individual performances at the Penn State Open, where six fencers finished in the top 10. The Crimson dominated the sabre division at that event, with senior Aliya Itzkowitz, junior Adrienne Jarocki, and freshman Gabby Tartakovsky placing first, second, and sixth, respectively.
This dominance continued as the same team of Itzkowitz, Jarocki, and Tartakovsky allowed just 11 touches to their Wellesley opponents. Foil fencers Yamin, Zhang, and junior Hali Nelson were close behind, giving up only 13 touches as a trio. The epee team of freshman Shawn Wallace, sophomore Claire Dinhut, and freshman Sharon Ra helped to round out the perfect 27, not dropping one bout either.
The last time Harvard defeated its opponent by a margin as large as in Thursday’s matchup was December 2010 against North Carolina. The group also had never opened a season with such a lopsided score.
The Crimson entered the match with no recent experience playing the Wellesley team. Harvard had not hosted Wellesley since 2000, in which the Crimson came out on top by a 23-4 margin. Harvard now leads the series overall, 20-5, and 11-1 at home.
Although Harvard does not usually play Wellesley in its opener, it does keep it local. The past two seasons were kicked off with victories against Tufts, 22-5 and 25-2, respectively. These strong performances then translated into a sweep of five wins at the Tradition Tournament hosted by Sacred Heart.
“We’ve been training really hard in the preseason,” Yamin said. “And it’ll be good to go into Sacred Heart with this confidence that we got from today.”