Last weekend the team traveled to UNCG once again for SIFA Championships. We had a historic showing with a number of team and personal bests throughout the weekend, and many fencers agree that this was one of the most fun and intense competitions we’ve been to in a long while.
Veteran epees Will Bushman (’18) and Ben Coleman (’19), joined by the usually saber Ephraim Kozodoy (’21), swept into SIFA ready to prove their mettle. Will led the charge with his trusty french grips and beautiful counterattacks to elegantly evade his opponents. Ben, the only returning member of last year’s SIFA squad, realized how far his footwork and parries had come since by sweeping the same ECU squad that had previously befuddled him. Ephraim put the speed he learned as a saber to good use pressuring his foes, winning the moral victory through an actual victory over another saber turned epee. Though questionable organizational decisions cut the men just shy of proving their true merit in DEs, they left with heads held high, even hungrier for the challenges of tournaments to come.
Nikki Petzer, (’19) and Annette Kang, (’19), led by Cecilia Hoover, (’18) took SIFA by storm, winning 3rd place overall. Annette steadily improved throughout the day and her carefully calculated counterattacks led her opponents to ruin, and her well-timed fleches surprised even the veterans of the competition. Nikki, after fencing someone who exactly matched her style and technique, won the key victory of Florida by running the clock down to priority and then running down her opponent before getting the touch with a second remaining. Cecilia came to take names, and served several bagels to both Florida and JMU, ending the day almost undefeated.
SIFA Champs was a great time for the men’s foil squad. The men’s foil squad came in to the tournament seeded 7th out of 11th and finished in 6th, only one bout away from 5th. This change in rank might not be massive, but it is still a sign of success and improvement. All three fencers: Matt Cusick (’20), Ben Witman (’20), and Faisal Alami (’20) won their fair share of bouts and contributed to the squad’s success. By working together, and with the help of the women’s foil squad, they were able to beat ECU 5-4 and UGA 5-3 in pools, and then U Florida 5-3 in the DE stage. All three men’s foilists learned a lot from SIFA Champs and it is a marker of great things to come.
Women’s foil finished in 5th overall at UNC- Greensboro this weekend. Freshmen Molly McCue (‘21) and Polala Wang (‘21) made their debut at the SIFA champs circuit lead by Senior Alex Marto (‘18). The first round of pools of the day were neck-and-neck against Florida state, GA Tech, and George Washington University. Each pool resulted in either 5 to 4 win/losses with each fencer fighting for every touch. Molly approached each point with patience and grace with her parry-ripostes. She bagled GA Tech twice that day. She clinched the DE victory against that school, moving us to the next round of the bracket. Polala was a firecracker of energy, intimidating most of her opponents with her aggressive attacks and landing most of her touches with ferocity. Alex never gave up and didn’t drop a single bout in the final DE against University of Georgia. The last bout was the optimal mix of perfecting timing and patience with a single light touch, winning it for women’s foil and securing 5th place in the tournament. Alex’s glorious roar echoed the hard work the squad achieved at this tournament. Molly, Polala, and Alex are more than proud of what all of them had achieved and are excited for future tournaments. Way to go girls!
Men’s saber came into the day with Eric Alpert (’18) leading Robert Catlett (’18), and Andre Coscia (’19), a squad that last competed together nearly two years ago at the VA Cup. Together, the trio proved to be quite the team to beat, earning early wins against very tough opponents. Eric’s patience and smart fencing left even some of the best fencers in the room staggering. Robert’s relentless long attacks proved to be more than a match for nearly every opponent who he marched down the strip. Andre found his footwork halfway through the day and showed that he has a tremendous ability to learn and grow in the middle of tournaments. The men finished the day in second place, a new high for the squad and a great accomplishment for the fencers.
The women of the saber squad might not have been the tallest in the room but they more than made up for it in determination and skill. Chrysanthi Stevens (’19), Emory Magner (’19), and freshman Mary McCants (’21) brought everything they had to a weekend of fencing. Chrysanthi found her rhythm in strong parries with quick ripostes. Emory stole points from opponents with good extensions off the line and managed to overcome nerves to win key 4-4 bouts. Mary upset opponents twice her high with aggressive attacks and quick feet that carried her through the long day. In the end, the strong showing got the girls to a fifth place finish, a testament to all of the work and care they bring to the sport every week.
William & Mary’s fencers are looking forward to competing at USACFC next weekend!