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NCAA Champs Blemish Fencing’s Perfect Record

Devaraj, Purcell Undefeated at Brandeis Tourney

By Curtis Wade


The Engineers dominated their NCAA rivals at the Brandeis Invitational last weekend, as both the men and women went 4-1 and lost only to St. Johns, the defending national champions. At the close of the first half of the season, the women boast a 9-1 (6-1 NCAA) and the men an 8-1 (5-1) record.

Neal K. Devaraj ’02 (epee) and Caroline M. Purcell ’02 (sabre) led the way, improving their personal records to a team best 16-2. Devaraj and Purcell were undefeated in the team victories over Brown University, Boston College, Brandeis University and Vassar College.

Women post convincing wins

The women felt little pressure from their first three opponents, winning 16-11 over Brown, 22-5 over BC and 18-9 over Brandeis. In team format, three fencers from each squad--epee, foil and saber--fence each of the opposing school’s respective fencers, for a total of nine bouts per squad and 27 bouts per school.

Epee and foil got off to slow starts against Brown, but the sabre girls picked up the slack going 8-1 behind 3-0 outings by Purcell and Jennifer A. McKeehan G.

Against BC, all three squads came out on fire. Sabre went 9-0, as Purcell, McKeehan, Priscilla Del Castillo ’04 and Sasha R. Manoohsingh ’03 won all their bouts. Susannah M. Dorfman ‘05 and Christine A. Yee ’03 went 3-0 to lead the 7-2 foil squad. Clarissa Y. Smith ’04 and Natalie E. Cusano ‘02 went 3-0 and 2-1 to aid the women in winning their most decisive victory over a competitive NCAA school.

Like a well-oiled machine, each squad went 6-3 against Brandeis. Purcell, Dorfman and Cusano were undefeated. McKeehan, Del Castillo, Yee, Smith and Jennifer R. Lue ’03 all went 2-1.

The St. John’s women’s team handed the women their first loss of the season, despite valiant efforts by the sabre squad. Following St. John’s, the women demolished Vassar 25-2. Purcell, Del Castillo, McKeehan and Manoohsingh went undefeated 9-0. Dorfman and Danielle M. Morse ’02 both went 3-0 for foil and Smith, Cusano, Michelle A. Nadermann ’03 and Crystal Shih ’04 added two wins apiece for epee.

Men survive stiff competition

In a day marked by team unity, the men’s team survived an early morning slump, narrowly beating Brown in their first match. Despite Devaraj’s 3-0 performance for the epee squad, neither epee nor sabre posted winning records. With a strong example of team harmony, the foil squad went 7-2 picking up half the wins in the 14-13 contest. Oliver J. Chadwick ’02 and Vincent Chen ’05 both contributed two victories, but the 3-0 performance of William F. MacFarlane ’05 carried the day.

The team score stood at 13-13 as MacFarlane faced Brown’s top foil fencer. With the team’s fate in his hands, MacFarlane proceeded to soundly defeat his opponent, leaving the entire Brown team stunned.

Still reeling from the loss for the season of their best fencer, the sabre squad got its chance to shine against BC. Rafael E. Bras ’02, Jason M. Levine ’03 and Michael P. Pihulic ’04 took seven wins against BC. Foil and epee defeated the BC squads 5-4 and 6-3, as Chadwick and MacFarlane went 2-1 and Devaraj went 3-0. The 18-9 victory was ample recompense for BC’s victory last year.

Chadwick and MacFarlane repeated their 2-1 efforts against Brandeis, but this time the epee squad carried the load going 6-3. Devaraj was undefeated and Matthew R. Levy ’04 added another victory. Another close match, the score stood at 12-12 with two foil bouts and one epee bout remaining. Chen took one of the foil bouts, and Samuel N. Korb ’05 defeated his opponent, clinching the Engineers’ 14-13 victory.

The last two contests were more lopsided as the champion St. John’s team racked up win after win. The men finished the day by defeating Vassar 22-5, led by the 3-0 performances of Anthony P. Reinen ’03 (sabre), Chadwick, Devaraj and Korb.

With 510 total bouts fenced in the last two weeks, the Engineers head into winter break tired, but victorious. MIT opens the second half of the season at BC on January 26, where they will face Brown, BC, Tufts University and Dartmouth University.