The Owls shuffle their starting lineup in a home tournament.
The fencing team finished its first dual meet of the season, 4-1, Sunday at the Philadelphia Invitational at McGonigle Hall, falling only to No. 7 Northwestern, 15-12.
The No. 9 Owls earned victories against Cornell, Haverford, Sacred Heart and John Hopkins, as the team received a solid performance from its sabre fencers.
The Cherry and White endured six rounds of competition including one bye-round in the tournament that also hosted Drew, Duke, North Carolina, Penn and New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Even though the Owls missed the chance to upset Northwestern, foil squad leader junior Alyssa Lomuscio said having a home crowd “is always good.”
Lomuscio added the team is confident it will be ready for a rematch in two weeks.
The Owls started the tournament with some technical errors against Northwestern. The epee fencers experienced difficulty against the Huskies, assistant coach Bradley Baker said.
“Epee started off a little rough,” Baker said. “Then they got it sorted out for the rest of the day.”
Baker said the team experimented rotating the starting lineup and used numerous substations throughout the competition.
“Pretty much everyone was fencing well today,” Baker said. “They were making really good tactical decisions.”
The home meet took some pressure off the Owls as the team was able to get into a comfortable mindset, senior sabre fencer Samantha Pascarelli said.
“It was nice because we got to sleep in our own beds the night before,” Pascarelli said.
In the third round, Temple won the first 13 bouts with Cornell and the Owls held on to win, 17-10. Baker said he did not expect the Owls to start as strong as they did in the matchup because he estimated Cornell was around No. 12 in the nation.
Baker emphasized the team will look to “fine-tune” its techniques over the next week to prepare for the season.
“Fixing the execution errors is exactly what you’d like to see at this part of the season because you don’t have to worry about going back and fixing fundamentals,” Baker said. “It’s taking progress that we learned from round one to round five today and seeing if we can’t get meets starting where we are at the end of today.”
Head coach Nikki Franke said the invitational gave her an opportunity to see most of the freshmen make their college debuts.
“Our freshmen are working very hard,” Franke said. “It was their first time in a collegiate meet, so they had to get used to it and adjust.”
“They’re all really competitive, which is a good thing,” Franke added. “They all work really well together with the upperclassmen.”
Temple will travel to Penn State on Saturday to take on the Nittany Lions, who are the two-time defending national champions. The Owls will face three other teams that may include Duke, Drew, USAFA, Penn or UNC.
“That’s going to be a tough one,” Franke said, referring to the meet with No. 2 Penn State. “But what we look for is improvement as the season goes on. As long as we keep improving, as long as the girls are continuing to learn and work, that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
Connor Showalter can be reached at email@example.com.