NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – The Brandeis fencing teams opened their 2015-16 campaigns on Friday at the New England Fall Collegiate Championship at Smith College, also referred to as The Big One. Senior Caroline Mattos (Providence, R.I./LaSalle Acad.) led the way for the women's side, winning the foil competition for the second time in her career.
Mattos, who also won the event as a freshman, took bronze as a sophomore and silver last year. Mattos was dominant this time around. In pool play, she surrendered just two touches in six bouts to earn the top seed in the direct eliminations, where matches were contested to 15. She continued her terrific fencing into the bracket, where she defeated her first three opponents by a cumulative 45-9 score. In the semifinals, she defeated Sacred Heart's Bailey Partridge, 15-6, before finally getting a test in the finals from SHU's CJ McCarter, 12-10.
Sophomore Zimeng Xue (Beijing, China / Peking Univ. Affiliated) also had a fine performance in the women's foil, earning the third seed by outscoring her opponents 30-5 in pool play. She won her first two matches in the direct elimination by a 30-5 margin as well before edging Smith's Rebekah Khan, 11-9, in the round of 16. Xue fell to McCarter, 15-7 in the quarterfinals to finish in fifth place.
The other top performance for the women's side came in the sabre, where junior Ashley Jean(Norwood, Mass. / Fontbonne Academy) placed fifth overall. Earning the second seed after winning all six pool matches by a 30-5 score, Jean won her first direct elimination match by a 15-2 score before edging classmate Nina Sayles (Mamaroneck, N.Y. / Loomis-Chaffee), 15-10, in the Round of 16. Eventual champ Cordelia Avery of MIT knocked off Jean in the quarterfinals.
On the men's side, the Judges took home two medals. Sophomore Kyle Berney (Shreveport, La./Caddo Magnet) medaled for the second year in a row, taking silver in the sabre. Berney defeated his six pool play opponents by a 30-9 score to earn the sixth seed in the elimination bracket. Berney won his first two matches, 30-7, before taking a 15-10 decision in the quarterfinals over Dartmouth's Joshua Utterback. Berney then topped back-to-back opponents from BC, 15-7 and 15-8, to make the finals. He dropped the last match of the day to Benjamin Lin of MIT, a 2015 NCAA qualifier, 15-8.
The Judges' final medalist on the day was sophomore transfer Elishua Litle (Haifa, Israel), who took silver in the foil competition. Little took the ninth seed, actually third-best among his teammates, with a 30-8 advantage in pool action. Litle barely survived his opening round of the direct elimination, winning 15-12. After an easier time in the round of 32 with a 15-2 win, Litle faced teammate and eighth seed rookie Charlie Wells (Melville, N.Y. / Half Hollow Hills East)and edged his fellow Judges, 15-13. He knocked off top-seeded Hanmin Lee of Boston College in the semifinals, but came up short against Sacred Heart's Tyler Endee, 15-9.
The men's epee squad performed well, but were the victim of bracketing that saw four different showdowns between Brandeis competitors. Rookie Phil Szeszol (Chester, N.J. / West Mendham) had the best finish, overcoming a 2-4 performance in pool play and a 15-14 scare in the first round to reach the quarterfinals in a quarter that three teammates. Szeszol's quarter included top-seeded Ben Kravetz (Scottsdale, Ariz./ Chapparral ), who went 30-9 in touches in pool play, and who fell to another Judge freshman, Nick Clancey (Louisville, Ky. / DuPont Manual).
The Judges return to action on Nov. 21 with the first of two Northeast Fencing Conference meets, held at Brown University.