Varsity Fencing Team Overcomes Slow Start to Take Second Place

On November 21, the MIT Varsity Fencing Team had its first team meet of the season, defeating conference opponents UMass (20-7), Boston University (21-6), New Hampshire (26-1), and Brandeis (14-13) before falling to Sacred Heart University (8-19).

A total of 27 bouts were fenced against each school, 9 in each of the three events: foil, epee, and sabre. The Engineers opened the day by handily defeating their first two opponents, UMass 20-7, and UNH 26-1. While it seemed that MIT was coasting easily towards victory, the Cardinal and Gray was soon faced with perennial rival Brandeis University.

The team opened the round slowly, losing several of the initial bouts to fall to an early, seemingly insurmountable, deficit. The foil squad lost their first three to fall to 0-3, and the sabre and epee squad fared only slightly better. “We just didn’t come out there with the kind of energy they did initially” commented Rangarajan D. Nadadur ’10. After rapidly falling behind 13-6, all hope seemed lost. It was in this darkest of hours that the team turned to assistant coach Igor Kopylov G for guidance. “He just told us what needed to be done, and we did it,” Maximilian L. Brand ‘11 said “We knew it was his birthday, and that motivated us.” In an unlikely Cinderella Story, the team went on to win 8 straight bouts, defeating Brandeis University 14-13. The Brandeis coach could not be reached for comment. “Even back when I was young and fencing for MIT years ago, this is among the best comeback victories I’ve ever seen. I’m just glad I could serve as inspiration for this historic event,” Kopylov said.

Unfortunately, the winning streak would not continue for the MIT fencers. Despite their impressive start to the day, the team was humbled by Sacred Heart University, 8-19. “They’re not unbeatable, our heads just weren’t in the game,” said Richard C. LaGrandier ’11, “we’ll see them again this season; the story isn’t over yet.”

MIT closed out the day defeating Boston University 21-6, returning home with 4 victories. The depth of the team was apparent, as the foil squad ended the day with a ledger of 30-15, with the epee and sabre squads following closely behind with records of 29-16. The team will compete at its second meet this coming weekend, where they will face St. John’s, Brown, UNC, and Yale.