Temple fencing knocks off top-ranked Notre Dame

The team went 4-2 overall.

Senior sabre Kerry Plunkett lunges toward Chloe Chen, a sophomore sabre at New York University, during the Temple Open at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 2. | JUSTIN OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple fencing, which is ranked No. 7, went 4-2 at the Philadelphia Invitational at the University of Pennsylvania over the weekend. 

The team faced four top-ten programs: Ohio State University, Northwestern University, the University of Notre Dame, and Penn. 

Temple opened up the meet against Northwestern, which is ranked No. 9. The Owls defeated the Wildcats 17-10, led by an 8-1 sabre victory. 

“Northwestern is a very strong team and we always have close matches against them every year,” coach Nikki Franke said. “So it was a good confidence booster for us to start out so well against a team that we know is good.”

Temple went up against No. 5 Ohio State in its second match of the day. The foil squad fell 2-7 and epee fell 4-5. The sabres captured their second victory of the day with a 5-4 win. It was not enough to overcome the Buckeyes who won 16-11. 

Ohio State’s foil success was what made all the difference in the match, Franke said. 

“Ohio State was a little more patient. They are very strong,” Franke said. “They’re ranked fifth for a reason. We weren’t able to pull as many foil bouts as I would’ve liked.”

The third match featured a rematch from the previous week between Yale and Temple. The Owls fell 14-13 at the Penn State Invitational last weekend. 

Yale got the better of Temple again. Foil fell 2-7 and epee fell 4-5 with sabre grabbing another 5-4 win. Yale handed the Owls their second defeat of the day with a 16-11 win. 

The team was hurt by the loss, Franke said.

“I think after the win against Northwestern and the loss against Ohio State, we had a little trouble regrouping,” Franke said. “They adjusted a bit more than we did. We thought we definitely could’ve won that match with a couple of bouts going the other way, so that was a difficult loss for us because it was one we thought we were really capable of winning.” 

Temple faced host Penn in its fourth match of the day following a break. The Owls fell 4-5 in foil and 3-6 in epee.

The Sabre squad grabbed a 7-2 win in the final weapon. Temple inched out a 14-13 win over the hosts. 

Franke said the team adjusted well coming out of the break after their first three matches. 

“After the Yale match, we had a lunch break and I think that was a good time for us to have a break because we were very strong the rest of the afternoon,” Franke said. 

In the fifth match of the day, the Owls saw their toughest opponent yet this season in No. 1 Notre Dame, Franke said. 

The tables turned for foil as they captured a 5-4 win in the first weapon. Epee had its strongest performance of the day, going 7-2. 

Sabre finished with a 6-3 win, and the Owls knocked off the Fighting Irish, 18-9.  

“We came in and we weren’t intimidated. We fenced hard, once we got some momentum going we were able to maintain that momentum and I think they were a little surprised at how strong we were,” Franke said. 

Franke praised the epee squad after the match for its strong performance in a matchup against the top-ranked team. 

“They were handling each bout well, and that made a big difference in how we were able to do,” Franke said.  

Senior sabre Kerry Plunkett led the team on the day, going 13-1. Senior Malia Hee finished 10-5 and freshman Zoe Turner finished 10-4, both also competing in sabre. 

“They really are the core, and they really have been very consistent throughout,” Franke said. “[Plunkett’s] performance against that field is really an outstanding result for that day.” 

Freshman epee Margherita Calderaro had another strong performance, going 10-5 on the day. Calderaro went 9-3 last week at the Penn State Invitational. 

“[Calderaro is] fairly consistent so that brings a level of confidence to the squad and comfort because she is pretty consistent week in week out so we know we can depend on her so that’s a big plus and it’s a lot to put on a freshman and she’s handling it very well,” Franke said. 

Franke said the team will continue to work on their focus at meets where they have a lot of matches in a row. Temple will have to fence ten schools at its upcoming meet in two weeks. 

This upcoming week will be Temple’s first week off in 2020. Temple will travel to Northwestern University for the Northwestern Multi-Meet on Feb. 1. 

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