PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – In their final tune-up for the NCAA Regionals in two weekends, the Brandeis fencing teams competed at the United States Collegiate Squad Championships at the University of Pennsylvania. Fresh off defending their New England championship the day before, the Judges turned in three bronze-medal performances at the event, finishing only behind top-10 teams in those three weapons.
The event, which is contested in the same format as international team competition, sees teams of three or four fencers compete to reach 45 touches first, switching fencers whenever a pairing reached a multiple of five or when time runs out. The Judges claimed third place in men's sabre, men's foil and women's foil, each time finishing behind #5 Princeton and #7 Penn.
In men's sabre, Brandeis's Adam Mandel, Ben Loft and Jess Ochs-Willard advanced to the medal round with a relatively easy 45-24 win over NYU. The Judges fell to Penn in the semifinals, 45-32,but rallied to defeat North Carolina, 45-42, in the third-place match. Ochs-Willard did some fine work for the team against the Tar Heels, erasing a 13-15 deficit by scoring seven out of 10 touches in his second time on the strip to give Brandeis a 20-18 lead. UNC had gone back ahead, 35-32, before Ochs-Willard came back up, and he put eight touches to his opponents three this time, giving Mandel a 40-38 lead, and the junior All-American outtouched his final opponent, 5-4, to earn the bronze.
In the men's foil competition, the Judges (Julian Cardillo, Len Grazian, Ethan Levy, Noah Berman) cruised past NYU, 45-28, losing just one head-to-head match-up. Against Princeton in the semifinals, the Judges couldn't quite overcome a couple of rounds in which they only scored one touch, falling to the Tigers, 45-37. In the third-place match, a familiar foe, Boston College, faced the Judges, and it was an incredibly even match. The lead was tied or within one point in each of the final five matchups. Brandeis trailed, 19-16, after four matches, but Berman won six of the next nine points to tie the match at 22. Cardillo and BC's Hanmin Lee were contested 15 points, with Lee earning an 8-7 edge. Levy responded with a 6-4 win over Peter Wetzel of the Eagles to put Brandeis ahead, 35-34. Cardillo and BC's Rory Siy traded six touches, making the score 38-37 in favor of the Judges headed to the final match, which pitted Berman and Lee. Neither team was able to pull away, and with the match tied at 44, Berman was able to get the winning touch.
The only women's team to compete for the Judges were the foilists (Eva Ahmad, Annette Kim, Caroline Mattos, Vikki Nunley). The Judges opening matchup was against rival NYU. The lead changed hands between the Judges and Violets five times, but Brandeis prevailed, 45-42. Trailing 35-32 headed into the last two matchups, Nunley took eight of 11 touches from Tiffany Liu of NYU, while Mattos edged Audra Fox, 5-4, to advance the Judges to the semifinals. Against Penn in the semis, the host team won convincingly, 45-22, with Nunley and Mattos scoring Brandeis's lone one-point wins. In the third-place match, the Judges faced North Carolina, and the Judges used a couple of big early wins to their advantage. Nunley topped Wynton Wong, 7-1, to give Brandeis a 1-9 lead, while Mattos's 5-1 win over Amethyst Evans gave the Judges a seven-point lead, 25-18. After Kim won 5-4 over Evans, the Judges were ahead by 10, and cruised to the bronze medal, 45-39.