Despite a No. 10 ranking in the Jan 15. CollegeFencing360.com Coaches Poll, the Owls were without a win against a ranked opponent two months into the season.
With losses to No. 6 Ohio State, No. 4 Harvard and then-No. 2 Columbia on their resume, the Owls came into the Jan. 16 Penn State Invitational with the opportunity to knock off No. 8 Penn State.
At the meet, the team defeated Penn State 18-9, earning its first win against a ranked opponent this season.
“I think we’ve had a big moral boost,” junior epee Alexandra Keft said. “We’ve been doing very well this year, so we’re continuing that drive and determination to beat all those other teams because we beat Penn State, and they’re pretty highly ranked. So we have other teams that we’d like to beat that are in front of us so that we can get ahead in the rankings.”
Due to the fourth-largest snowfall in Philadelphia history, the No. 10 team in the Jan. 29 poll postponed its scheduled bouts for Jan. 23 against No. 5 Northwestern University, host No. 9 the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, Duke University and John Hopkins University.
Instead, the Owls focused their attention to the Northwestern Duals on Saturday and Sunday with an opportunity to face No. 5 Northwestern, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 3 Princeton University and No. 2 Notre Dame.
On day one of the tournament on Saturday, the Owls lost to both the Wildcats and the Buckeyes 18-9, but won their four other bouts, including a 14-13 victory against University of California-San Diego.
On Sunday, the Owls were defeated by Princeton and Notre Dame 16-11, bringing their weekend record to 8-4.
“We’re not there yet, and I think that showed this weekend,” coach Nikki Franke said. “We just have to go back and work a little harder and kind of get focused on the specific things we need to improve on in order to get the kinds of results that we want against these top ten teams.”
On Jan. 16, The Owls earned a 4-1 record at the Penn State Invitational, defeating the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Haverford College and Yale University, in addition to their win against Penn State.
At the meet, the epee squad totaled a 5-0 record, led by junior Alexandra Keft and sophomore Safa Ibrahim—who had a combined record of 22-4.
“At the beginning of the season, we set goals and one of our goals was to be Top 7 or a little bit higher than that. … I feel like it’s mostly to know that Temple is here, Temple is good, and Temple is here to beat everyone who is in front of us,” senior foil Fatima Largaespada said.
Temple’s lone loss came against then-No. 2 Columbia University, the defending Division I champions. Keft and Ibrahim were each 3-0 to help the epee squad earn a 7-2 victory.
Columbia’s first team All-Ivy junior foilist Sara Taffel and three-time All-American senior Jackie Dubrovich each went 3-0 to help the Lions’ foil squad earn an 8-1 victory.
The Lions’ foil squad has a 17-1 record against Temple in two meets this season, helping the Lions earn two 15-12 wins over the Owls.
“Their foil team is extremely strong, and that’s really what hurt us the most, but they have six girls that are all ranked in the Top 10 in the country,” Franke said. “The sabre went 4-5, it was very close. So we just had to pick up some more foil bouts to help out sabre and epee that did their job.”
Evan Easterling can be reached at email@example.com.