Victory at VA Cup! (End of Year Update)

As the year comes to a close, we would like to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the 2017-2018 season: the alumni who came to tournaments to coach and cheer us on, the families who hosted us when we traveled this year, and everyone who has offered their time and guidance to the team. William & Mary Fencing team would not have enjoyed such a successful year without each and every one of you.

William and Mary closed out a great season last weekend at the Virginia Cup, hosted this year at James Madison University.  All our hard work this year paid off, and the Cup remains (newly polished) in our trophy case until next year. We swept the women’s events, winning first place in women’s epee, foil, and saber, and our ladies dominated the podium in the individual events as well. Our men’s saber squad also took home gold, while men’s foil and epee each placed third against stiff competition. Read on for a detailed recap of the tournament:

Women’s Epee

This past weekend, William and Mary’s Women’s Epee continued on a tradition of winning 1st place for the past 4 years in Virginia Cup. Both Ruoying Hao ’18 and Cecilia Hoover ’18 fenced their final collegiate tournament, along with Nicole Petzer ’19, and swept the podium, with Cecilia earning 1st, Ruoying 2nd, and Nicole 3rd. Nicole took advantage of her height in her final DE, flustering her opponent with fast counterattacks to the wrist, and handily defeating her. Ruoying stumped her opponents with her sheer aggression, ending the day undefeated in pools. Cecilia also ended the day undefeated, with her first DE finishing in three flicks to the foot, and her final DE ending with her knocking out Ruoying for 1st. Our women’s epee is proud to have won all three podium places for the past four years, and looks forward to the underclassmen to continue the tradition!

Women’s Foil

Women’s foil was poised and focused the whole day, and it took them all the way to the top, as Alex Marto ‘18, Elizabeth Sutterlin ‘20, and Julie Vu ‘20 wrecked every school that faced them. Julie used her quick reactions to change tempo and score impressive remises on her opponents throughout the day, dropping only two bouts in the team round. Julie’s fencing especially shone in the round against Liberty, as she swept the school and defeated their tall left-handed fencer with her own lefty tricks. After fencing their hardest in the team round, the sophomore girls faced off in individuals. It was like our weekly practice had been transplanted to JMU, as each girl praised the other after a great touch and laughed with each other through the bout. They ended with a warm hug, sending Elizabeth into the semifinals, where Elizabeth’s intense focus, timing, and effective disengages brought her to victory. Exhausted but happy, she pushed through the final bout to take second place on the pedestal. She was a fountain of wisdom and encouragement through both the women’s and men’s day. Her dedication to her teammates, impeccable skills, and her love of fencing gives graduating senior Alex great joy to leave foil squad with her taking the reins.

Alex went into her last tournament ready to tear it up, and tear it up she did. She kept her feet moving, throwing off many of her opponents with her energy and fantastic distance. After facing the first seed in semifinals, she faced off for third place. In the final bout of her college career, she was fencing against a tall, left-handed, Liberty fencer who had beat her earlier in the day. Throughout the bout she was down by 3 touches at the end of the first and second periods, finally tying it up with 9 seconds left.  With the support of her president, co-captains, and teammates, Alex won her final DE 8-7, with a single light touch in overtime with 15 seconds left on the clock. It was a victorious way to give a last salute to everything this team has given her. She wants to thank everyone on this team, past and present. She can’t be more proud to have seen her squad grow so much. Ét La!

Women’s Saber

Women’s saber came out in full force for this year’s Virginia Cup. Madeline Myers ’20 valiantly led Riley Aiken ’20 and Mary McCants ’21 to victory, while Emory Magner ’19 defected to JMU to fill out a composite squad. Madeline showed her new counter-attacks and quick pulls off the line in individuals, earning her a well-deserved silver medal. Riley, making her first tournament appearance since SIFA North proved that she had earned her spot, deftly beating opponents throughout the day. Mary has become a veteran of the strip and reminded the JMU team that though small she may be, she is fierce. Emory, despite fencing for the other team, never pulled a punch and fenced hard, showing grace in both victory and defeat as is expected of a W&M fencer. W&M took first overall, and Madeline, Riley, and Mary medaled for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place, respectively. Following the competition, Emory was welcomed back to WM with open arms, and a spirited volley of scrimmage bouts earned us the friendship of JMU women’s saber.

Men’s Saber

The men’s saber team took to the strips for the last time this year against our Virginia rivals. Steven Pressendo ’19, Eric Alpert ’18, and Robert Catlett ’18 aimed for nothing short of glory throughout the day. Despite other teams having a few strong individuals, the depth of talent on the William and Mary team won bout after bout. Pushing through injuries, Steven’s tactical knowledge guided him and his teammates through every school. Eric bested even the strongest of opponents in the team rounds and helped secure early leads. Robert took full advantage of new techniques and a floor that wasn’t made out of concrete to punish opponents with patient long attacks. In the individual rounds, Steven faced a former teammate of his but took the edge with a combination of smart and dynamic fencing, earning gold at the end of the day. Eric took his last stand for WM in the bronze medal bout and pushed through exhaustion to score vital touches that earned him the medal. Robert drew an unlucky bracket placement but fenced amazingly coming in 5th place. The men ended the year on a high note, taking team and individual glory back to Williamsburg.

Men’s Epee

Our men’s epee squad of Pulak Raj ’20, William Bushman ’18 and Benjamin Coleman ’19 once again stormed into VA Cup with their eye(s) on the title. This year’s competition was very different from last year’s men’s epee competition with many skilled freshmen joining the other universities. Ben used his strong en garde and parries to stand as the brick wall most fencers could not get past. He picked up key victories against some nationally rated fencers. Will was on fire, and won too many bouts to count. Nothing could stop his excellent distance and long fleches. Pulak used his classic fencing style consisting of quick beats to the foot and attacking into preparation to help propel the men’s epee squad into 3rd place at the VA Cup. Pulak also placed 3rd in the individual round. Overall, the competition at VA Cup was exponentially stronger but William and Mary’s men’s epeeists pulled through with a strong finish and is optimistic for the squad’s future.

Men’s Foil

Faisal Alami ’20 led Stuart Thomas ’21 and Ben Witman ’20 to JMU to defend the Virginia Cup. Men’s foil won third place overall. Stuart’s aggression and well timed attacks in prep were instrumental in his victories. Ben’s patience on the defense gave him some dangerous parry 4-ripostes. Faisal’s disengages and counter attacks helped him place 5th in the individual round. Men’s foil did great all around and this tournament topped off a year’s work of achievement quite nicely.

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