NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – The Brandeis University fencing team had a fine showing at the season-opening New England Fall Collegiate Invitational, also known as The Big One, at Smith College. The Judges had three medalists, led by rookie Caroline Matos (Cumberland, R.I./LaSalle Acad.) who won the foil on the women's side, while sophomores Adam Mandel (White Plains, N.Y./Masters School) and Jess Ochs-Willard (Montclair, N.J./Montclair) earned silver and bronze, respectively, in men's saber competition.
For the Brandeis men, the Judges had three of the top 10 finishers and four of the top 13 in the saber. Mandel matched Matos's pool play mark by winning all six of his bouts by a combined 30-1 score, while Ochs Willard had a 30-7 scoring edge to go undefeated. Mandel rolled into the semifinals, including a 15-9 win over teammate Ben Loft (Basking Ridge, N.J./Ridge) in the quarters. In the semifinals, Mandel edged Brown's Denis Dukhavalov, 15-14, before dropping the title match to eighth-seed Nick Deak, also of Brown. Ochs-Willard also did not allow his opponents within seven points en route to the semifinals, with his closest bout also against a teammate, rookie Eric Shen (Mountainside, N.J./Governor Livingston) in the round of 16. Ochs-Willard won, 15-6, over Boston College's Devin Midgley in the quarterfinals before falling to Deak, 15-10, in the semis.
Sophomore Noah Berman (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto) placed sixth in the foil competition. Berman outscored his opponents, 30-5, in pool play, to go 6-0 and earn the second seed. Berman rolled through the first two rounds of elimination play by allowing just three combined touches. He earned a 15-10 win in the round off 16 over Joe Fiacco of Sacred Heard before bowing to SHU's eventual champion Stuart Holmes, 15-9, in the quarters.
Top finishers for the Judges in the men's epee competition were seniors Harry Kaufer (Newton, Mass./Newton South) and Mike Zook (Chicago, Ill./University of Chicago Lab School) and rookie Tom Hearne (Holmdel, N.J./Ranney School), who each reached the round of 16 of the elimination tournament after going 5-1 in pool play action.
Matos was outstanding in her collegiate debut, going 6-0 in pool play, scoring 30 touches while allowing just one in five-point bouts, sharing the top seed. She rolled through the 15-point bouts in the quarterfinals of the elimination bracket, with 45 touches scored to just four allowed. In the quarters, Matos had her closest match, defeating Linda Zhang of Boston College, 15-9. After a 15-7 win over Vassar's Katie LeClair in the semifinals, Matos won the gold with a convincing 15-4 win over third-seeded Jayme Smith of Sacred Heart University.
Other highlights on the women's side came from senior captain Zoe Messinger (Short Hills, N.J./Millburn) in the saber, who went 5-0 in the prelims and reached the quarterfinals, where she fell to silver medalist Robin Shin of MIT. Classmate Emmily Smith (Stony Brook, N.Y./Ward-Melville) went 4-1 in pool play and fell to Shin in the round of 16. The epee squad was paced by rookie Gwen Mowell (Wyckoff, N.J./Indian Hills), who went 5-0 in pool play to earn the seventh seed in the elimination tournament, but was knocked off in the second round by rookie teammate Rosa Zhang (E. Setauket, N.Y./Ward-Melville).
The Judges return to action on Nov. 17 in the first Northeastern Fencing Conference meet of the season at MIT.