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Fencing: No. 9 Northwestern continues to go toe-to-toe with top competition

The fencing team is looking sharp.

2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Fencing Championship Photo by Joe Sargent/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

It’s easy to lose yourself in the vitriol of some of Northwestern’s flailing sports teams.

Football sits in a deadlock with UMass-Amherst for having the worst record in the NCAA over the last 18 games (1-17). The men’s basketball team is a bit easier to watch, though back-to-back losses don’t particularly serve as fuel for enthusiasm. And the women’s basketball team putting up 12 points in the entire first half on Thursday versus Duke isn’t too thrilling, either.

But standing valiantly alongside an impressive women’s field hockey and soccer team is NU’s fencing squad. The all-female team is ranked eighth in the nation, sitting behind a bevy of Ivy Leagues and other northeast foes.

Checking in with a 15-6 record, the ‘Cats have dominated opponents across various tournaments and invitationals this season.

The fencers swept the Vassar Invitational, played in early November. A dominant outing from the sabre unit, which boasted a winning record against all eight opposing schools, led the way. Most impressive was first-year Megumi Oishi, who topped the sabre pack with a 16-2 split at the invite. Vassar proved to be a confidence booster for the ‘Cats, who landed jab after jab against highly ranked Cornell and Johns Hopkins.

The squad could not sustain positive momentum, though. The Wildcats’ most recent outing at the Elite Invitational was also their most forgettable of the season, as four of the year’s six defeats came in Philadelphia — where the annual tourney is hosted.

Still, all except one (No. 11 Temple, 15-12) of those losses were at the hands of higher-ranked teams. No. 8 Penn dealt NU a one-match loss (14-13) to open the event, and No. 1 Princeton (20-7) and No. 6 Cornell (15-12) outdid the ‘Cats later in the day. Among the epee team, sophomore Hanna Lipthay impressed, leaving Philly with a 6-3 record. Oishi also continued to pave the way for the sabres, piling on seven individual victories.

Looking ahead, Northwestern will take on the North American Cup circuit next, with matches in December and January looming. NU will have a chance to test itself against some of its collegiate rivals in preparation for a tough back-half schedule.