Both Blue Devil fencing teams won four of their five matches in the Duke Home Meet this weekend at Card Gym.
The men’s team defeated Air Force, North Carolina, Brandeis and Johns Hopkins Saturday, while the women’s team beat Air Force, North Carolina, Brandeis and Temple Sunday— both teams losing only to No. 1 Penn State. The epee squads from both teams claimed the Epee Cup, an award given to the top school in each division. The women’s saber squad also dominated, earning the Saber Cup.
Senior Tristan Jones, a two-time NCAA qualifier, led the epee squad with a 14-1 record.
“We have a really solid team in epee,” Jones said. “We have a strong drive, we communicate and we love each other.”
Senior Nathaniel DeLucia and sophomore Dylan Nollner split time to earn 12 wins, and all-American Jonathan Parker, a senior, posted an 8-7 record.
“We wanted it very badly,” DeLucia said. “We have a mix of styles, and we were able to play off of our respective strengths very well.”
The men suffered their only loss of the day against the Nittany Lions, falling 17-10. Jones attributed the loss to a series of fallen one-point bouts, 14 of which went to Penn State.
“Penn State is a solid team,” Jones said. “None of their guys are pushovers.”
In fencing, only the final outcome matters, and so a series of close—but lost—bouts set the Blue Devils behind, Jones said. The men will have another chance to best Penn State the weekend of Feb. 25 at the Temple Duals.
“Hopefully some of the four-fives go our way, and we win,” Jones said.
The men’s saber squad also gave an impressive performance with wins in four of their five matches. Junior Anthony Lin went 8-4, followed by sophomore Timothy Evans at 8-5.
Lin noted that another factor leading to Duke’s loss to the Nittany Lions stemmed from the emotional weight of competing on their home turf.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” Lin said. “You want to do well for your team, for your coach. It’s a double-edged sword and a high emotions day.”
The women’s team—who entered the meet with a school-record 18 victories—once again made history by finishing with a 22-4 record. The 22 victories are the most gained in a single season for the women’s team, beating the record set in 2010 and 2011 of 17 wins. Their sole loss came at the hands of Penn State, which won 18-9.
Senior Becca Ward led the saber squad with a perfect 15-0 performance, advancing her nearly perfect record to 69-1 this season. Ward, a three-time NCAA champion and bronze medalist in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has only lost seven bouts so far in her Duke fencing career, but noted that her final home meet is bittersweet.
“It’s gone by really fast,” Ward said. “I feel so attached, invested and devoted to this team. The thought of not being here next year—I can’t even talk about it.”
Junior Sean Cadley and sophomore Kodia Baye-Cigna helped spur the squad to victory, finishing 10-5 and 9-6, respectively.
The epee squad also topped the competition, led by two-time all-American Emily D’Agostino, who won 12 out of 15 bouts. Head coach Alex Beguinet called D’Agostino, a junior, a “driving force” on the squad.
“I’m proud of epee,” D’Agostino said. “We have improved the epee squad from being one of the weakest to one of the strongest. Seeing us hold our own—it’s such a good feeling.”
The foil squad rounded out the women’s team, with junior Lily Shepard finishing 12-3 and senior Dana Rosen going 10-5.
The only home contest for the Blue Devils took place in a new-look Card Gym, which was fitted with electronic scoreboards, metal fencing strips and flat-screen televisions that feature live scores.
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