DURHAM, North Carolina -- On their furthest road trip of the 2011-12 season, the Brandeis men's fencing team went 2-3 to finish in a three-way tie for third place at the Duke Invitational. The Judges defeated Johns Hopkins for the second week in a row, topping the Blue Jays, 17-10, while edging North Carolina, 14-13, to avenge a loss from earlier in the season to the Tar Heels. Brandeis also had respectable 15-12 losses to Air Force and host Duke while falling to top-ranked Penn State, 19-8.
The Johns Hopkins match, which came down to the final bout a week ago in Waltham, was decided much earlier this time around. The Judges cruised to victory in the saber, 7-2, and foil, 6-3, with the epee fencers falling by a slim 5-4 margin. Rookie Jess Ochs-Willard (Montclair, N.J./Montclair) went 3-0 in saber action, while classsmate Adam Mandel (White Plains, N.Y./The Masters School) was 2-0. Sophomore Julian Cardillo (Medford, Mass./St. John's Prep) and rookie Noah Berman (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto) carried the foil squad, both going 3-0, while senior Alex Powell (Upper Montclair, N.J./Montclair) was 3-0 in epee action.
Against North Carolina, a team that had defeated the Judges, 17-10, on Dec. 2, all three weapons came down to the final rotation, with Brandeis prevailing in two of the three to claim the 14-13 victory over coach Bill Shipman's alma mater. In epee, the teams split the first six bouts. In the last rotation, junior Mike Zook (Chicago, Ill./Univ. of Chicago Lab School) took a 3-2 decision to make the score 4-3. After junior Harry Kaufer (Newton, Mass./Newton South) was edged, 5-4, in the next bout to knot the score at 4-4, Powell claimed a 5-3 win to give Brandeis the weapon victory. The saber fencers were also tied at 3-3 after the first two rounds, but UNC took two of three in the last rotation for the 5-4 win. With foil action also knotted two times through the rotation, Berman and rookie Ethan Levy (Great Neck, N.Y./Great Neck South) won 5-3 and 5-2, respectively, to earn the final victories for the Judges,
In their narrow losses to Air Force and Duke, the Judges picked up one weapon victory each. Against the Falcons, Mandel and classmate Ben Loft (Basking Ridge, N.J./Ridge) each went 2-1, while Ochs-Willard also earned a point as the saber squad won, 5-4. In the match against the host Blue Devils, Cardillo and Berman were each perfect at 3-0 s the foil squad won, 7-2. Three Brandeis fencers posted winning records against Penn State, with Kaufer, Zook and Mandel each going 2-1 to account for six of the Judges' eight points.
For the tournament, the top records for the Judges belonged to Mandel (11-3) and Berman (11-4), while Cardillo and Powell tied at 10-5.
Brandeis returns to action on Tuesday for the 2012 Beanpot Tournament at Harvard along with MIT and BC.