Temple University fencing went 4-1 at the Penn State Invitational in their first team competition of the year.
The Owls faced two top-10 opponents in a competitive weekend at State College. Temple defeated Columbia University, Haverford College, Penn State, and Duke University. Columbia and Penn State were ranked third and sixth respectively.
The Owls opened up play with a 14-13 win over defending national champion Columbia. Columbia’s women’s fencing team came into the meet ranked third in the nation.
The sabre squad started with a 6-3 win over the Lions. The foils grabbed a 5-4 victory in the second division. It was enough to fend off a Columbia team which is known to be a tough out, coach Nikki Franke said.
Senior sabre Kerry Plunkett led the way, going 3-0 against the Lions, coach Franke said.
“It was very challenging for our first match but sabre did an exceptional job in coming through,” Franke said. “All in all it was a good team effort, each squad picks up the other, and that is how we were able to pull the match out.”
Freshman epee Margherita Calderaro went 2-1 against the Columbia epee squad, Franke said. Franke was impressed with how calm Calderaro was throughout the competition.
“She’s a very experienced fencer, both nationally and internationally,” Franke said. “Sometimes for freshmen it is a little bit easier for them because they don’t have a history with the other teams so that helps so they just go out and fence.”
The Owls’ lone loss was to Yale University in a 14-13 match. Senior Malia Hee led the sabre squad against Yale, going 3-0, Franke said.
The sabre squad came up strong, going 6-3 but foil and epee both lost against the Bulldogs.
The Owls will get another crack at Yale this weekend at the Penn Invitational in Philadelphia.
“In epee, they were very aggressive, they’re a very good team, the match could’ve gone either way,” Franke said. “It went down to the last bout and we lost that 4-5 and that’s what made the difference, but the girls did a good job.”
The Owls bounced back against host and national No. 6 Penn State in their following match. The team fell 2-7 to Penn State’s sabre squad. The epee squad had a stand-out match, going 8-1, which was enough to secure a third victory for the Owls.
“Penn State is strong all the way through,” Franke said. “They always are. For our squad to perform like that was just phenomenal. That’s what carried that match for us.”
Temple ended its day with a 15-12 win over Duke.
Sabre got the match started with a 6-3 win. The foil fell 2-7 in the second division. In the third division, a youthful epee squad willed the Owls to a 7-2 victory.
Junior epee Marielle Luke led the squad, going 9-0 on the day. Sophomore foil Aryana Abtin was ruled out with a concussion, Franke said.
Franke was impressed with the leadership that was displayed in the close matches.
“It sets the tone for the entire team, especially with having five new people, you know, that’s a third of our team and so the upperclassmen setting the tone in these team competitions is very important,” she said.
The 4-1 record at Penn State has propelled Temple to No. 7 in the nation. After the match, Franke stressed the importance of resetting the mindset from match to match. Franke has accredited Temple’s match success to its ability to start fresh with each opponent.
“It’s very important that once a match is over that they clear their heads and reset for the next match and not carry any baggage from the last match, just make sure they’re always learning from each match and use that information moving forward,” Franke said. “We just have to reset before each match to make sure that we are getting a good start.”