PRINCETON, N.J. – The Brandeis University fencing teams competed at the 2016 U.S. Collegiate Squad championships on Sunday afternoon. The Judges were unable to repeat their feat of bringing home a medal from their two previous trips to the event, held at Princeton University this year.
All three women's squads and the men's epee squad each finished in sixth place, while men's foil and sabre finished in eighth place. The US Squad championships is a team relay event to 45 in which matchups rotate after one team reaches a multiple of five or three minutes runs out.
Women's foil suffered a narrow defeat to Yale, 45-39, in the first round. Rookie Joanne Carminucci (Brewster, NY / North Salem) was outstanding, outscoring her opponents, 14-5, including 6-1 in the next-to-last round to give the Judges a 38-36 lead, but the Bulldogs finished with a 9-1 run to take the win. In the consolation round, the Judges dominated Johns Hopkins, 45-24, thanks to an 8-0 run in the second round by senior Caroline Mattos (Cumberland, R.I./LaSalle Acad.) and 9-3 round by Carminucci. Unfortunately, the Judges were unable to meet rival NYU in the fifth-place match due to scheduling conflicts.
In women's epee action, the Judges were unable to overcome an early deficit in a 45-42 loss to Johns Hopkins in the quarterfinals. The match was tied at 14-all and again at 18-all, but the Blue Jays won 5-2 in the fifth round and were able to hold off the Judges the rest of the way. In the consolation semifinals against Vassar, it was the Judges who were on the right end of the 45-42 score. An early 9-2 run by sophomore Liz Feller (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. / Hendrick Hudson)gave Brandeis a 15-9 lead, and the Judges were ahead 26-19 headed into Feller's third round. Though the Brewers were able to get back into a marathon 15-11 match, senior Gwen Mowell (Wyckoff, N.J. / Indian Hills) scored eight points in time to give Brandeis the win. Again, the Judges were unable to fence in the fifth-place match against Yale due to time constraints.
Women's sabre rolled over FDU-Florham, 45-24, in an opening round match with the Judges scoring five points in all nine matchups, winning eight and tying another. In the quarterfinals against defending national champion Columbia, the Judges suffered a 45-34 defeat. After falling behind 10-2, senior Deb Abiri (Old Westbury, N.Y. / North Shore) got the Judges back within two points with a 9-5 win in the third round. The Lions answered with a 5-2 win, and the Judges had a couple of 5-5 ties and a 6-5 win by sophomore Laura Broffman (East Norwich, N.Y. / Oyster Bay), but Columbia closed on a 10-3 run to advance.
In the consolation bracket, Brandeis met NYU and took a 45-38 victory with junior Nina Sayles(Mamaroneck, N.Y./Loomis Chaffee School) taking a 10-5 decision in the second round to give the Judges a lead they wouldn't lose, with a 5-1 win in the seventh round by Broffman also proving key. In the fifth-place match, Yale took a 45-27 decision after jumping out to a 20-4 lead.
On the men's side, the epee squad fell victim to the same fate as the women's squad, unable to compete in their match to determine fifth place. The Judges defeated a Yale squad in the opening round, 45-40, with close early wins by junior Albert Reiss (Short Hills, N.J. / Millburn) andTom Hearne (Holmdel, N.J./Ranney School) giving the Judges a 10-5 lead. The next five matches were determined by two or fewer points, with Brandeis taking a 35-32 lead into the eighth round. Reiss routed the Bulldogs, 5-0, to give Brandeis some breathing room en route to the five-point win. Brandeis fell to a second Yale squad in the quarterfinals, 45-31, with the Elis closing on a 20-8 run. In the consolation semifinals, against Vassar, the lead changed hands a couple of times, but a 6-4 round by sophomore Hunter Stusnick (New Vernon, N.J. / Chatham) gave the Judges a 30-29 lead headed into the last set of bouts. Senior Ari Feingersch(Coral Springs, Fla. / J.P. Taravella) and Stusnick each extended the lead by one point to 40-37, and Hearne held off a Brewer charge by winning the final touch, 45-44. Brandeis was unable to meet Incarnate Word of San Antonio in the fifth-place match.
In men's foil action, the Judges fell to top-seeded Penn, 45-33, in the first round despite a 10-5 comeback from sophomore Eli Litle (Haifa, Israel / Reali - Beit Beram) in the final round. The Judges then lost to a pair of NYU squads, 45-37 in the consolation semis and 45-39 in the seventh-place match. Men's sabre knocked off an NYU team in the opening round, 45-36, but also fell to a top-seeded Quaker team, 45-19, in the quarters. The Judges lost to NYU, 45-26, in the consolation semis and 45-42 to Vassar to finish eighth.
Brandeis is back in action on March 13 for the NCAA Northeast Regional championships, where they will try to qualify for the 2016 NCAA National Collegiate Fencing Championships at home in the Gosman Athletic Center on March 24-27. You can learn more about the NCAA Fencing Championships at www.Brandeisjudges.com/NCAAFencing2016.