As most of campus headed home for spring break, the men of W&M Fencing drove up to Lafayette College in Pennsylvania to compete in MACFA Championships. The team was supported by parents and alumni who came to watch the competition, and finished the day with an impressive showing, earning the spot of top club team in the league for men’s saber. Two of our sophomores, Pulak Raj (Epee) and Steven Pressendo (Saber), qualified for the individual round. Recap and highlights follow below:
Saber squad had an incredibly successful weekend. Our saberists finished 6 places higher than they did last year, earning top club honors along the way. Troy Cullen went undefeated against club opponents. His upset victory over Hunter College distinguished William & Mary as one of only two teams that beat Hunter’s saber squad. No set captured Daniel Bachman’s improvement more than his bout against Navy. He surprised his opponent with his patience, racking up quick ripostes. After lulling his opponent into a sense of security, he exploded off the line and completed W&M’s clean sweep over Navy. Steven Pressendo started the day solidly, upsetting both Steven’s IT and NJIT. He closed out the group stage with a number of come-from-behind victories to earn his place in the individual round. With his last victory over NJIT, Steven completed his perfect record against Division I opponents this season.
Men’s epee sent a young squad of Pulak Raj, Ben Coleman and Jonathan Griggs, who entered MACFA Champs undaunted by their low preliminary seeding and demonstrated why William and Mary should not be underestimated. Freshman Jonathan Griggs, fencing in his first large tournament, used his unparalleled reach and point control to set up attacks from a long distance and picked up huge wins that led to victories over varsity schools. Junior Ben Coleman, the veteran of the group, used his new style using active footwork and wrist feints to pick apart his opponents and won many key bouts. Sophomore Pulak Raj used his patience and parries to crush his opponents, even pulling of a 3-2 win over TCNJ’s A strip. Pulak also advanced to the individual tournament as the 4th seed on A strip. All in all, men’s epee had a great performance at MACFA Champs, finishing not only above their preliminary seeding, but also four places better than last year.
MACFA Champs was an exciting event that tested all the men’s foil fencers. All were able to get an understanding of how prepared they needed to be to perform at our expected levels. Despite many defeats, the squad stayed positive and focused on how they could improve bout to bout. Fortunately, Alumnus George Bognar (Foil ’15) came to the event and provided valuable insights for the squad. At the end of the day, they were all exhausted, but had learned a lot and enjoyed the tournament. Ben Witman ’20 came very close to winning a 4-5 bout, and won 2 or 3 bouts 5-0 by forfeit! Both Ben Clark ’21 and Matt Cusick ’20 managed 1 bout win against different schools. It was a tough competition, but men’s foil is ready to work to improve.