WALTHAM, Mass. — Competing at the season-opening New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference (NEIFC) Fall Invitational, a/k/a The Big One, the Brandeis University fencing team had 12 competitors among the final eight among the six weapons, taking home a total of five medals in the process. The event consisted of over 430 fencers from 20 teams.
The men's sabre squad managed to post the individual result despite running into the hard luck of the draw – three Brandeis fencers were eliminated by teammates in the single-elimination draw. Junior All-American Adam Mandel (White Plains, N.Y./Masters School) led the way in the event, going 6-0 in pool play and earning the team's only goal in the elimination bracket. Seeded second, Mandel eliminated teammate Jess Ochs-Willard (Montclair, N.J./Montclair Acad.) in the quarterfinals, 15-9. He edged Brown's Alex Palabrica, 15-14, in the semis before taking out Sacred Heart's Tom Gerrity in the finals, 15-6. Ochs-Willard reached the quarters with a 15-14 win over teammate Ben Loft (Basking Ridge, N.J./Ridge), who in turn defeated sophomore Eric Shen (Mountainside, N.J./Governor Livingston), 15-11.
The men's foil squad was the only group to put two fencers in the final four. Senior Julian Cardillo (Medford, Mass./St. John's Prep), a three-time NCAA qualifier, and junior Noah Berman (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto) each reached the semifinals after going 6-0 in pool play. Berman earned bronze after he fell to Sacred Heart's Andrew Holmes in the semis. Cardillo topped Han Lee Min of Boston College, 15-13, to clinch at least a silver, but Holmes defeated Cardillo in the title match, 15-10.
The best women's performance of the tournament came were a pair of bronze medals. Brandeis's third NCAA qualifier from 2013, sophomore Caroline Mattos (Cumberland, R.I./LaSalle Acad.), was third in the foil. Mattos was unbeaten in pool play, along with senior Vikki Nunley (Lebanon, N.J./Voohees). In the direct elimination tournament, Mattos dropped opponents from Middlebury (15-5), Rhode Island (15-3) and Boston College (15-10) to reach the medal rounds. Mattos advanced to the semifinals with a 15-10 win over Gabrielle Stern of Dartmouth, before falling by the same score to Brown All-American Katherine Hawrot. Nunley allowed just two touches against in each of her first two rounds of the elimination. She defeated a foe from Boston College, Grace Lisius, 15-8, in the Sweet 16, but was edged by silver medalist Phoebe Liang of Dartmouth, 15-14, in the quarterfinals.
Brandeis's top rookie performance of the meet came in the women's sabre, where Annabel Sharahy (Wayne, N.J./Newark Acad.) earned a bronze medal. Sharahy won her pool, 6-0, outscoring her opponents, 30-6, to earn the third seed in the direct elimination. She continued her domination in the tournament, outscoring her first three opponents – including classmate Jaclyn Hammond (Bernardsville, N.J./St. Gills Bernard) – by a combined score of 45-7. Sharahy knocked off Brown's Lauren Altman, 15-10, to earn a medal, before falling to another Bear fencer, eventual champion Caitlin Taylor, 15-13, in the semifinals.
Brandeis's top finisher in the men's epee was sophomore Ari Feingersch (Coral Springs, Fla./J.P. Taravella) who went 5-0 in pool play and placed sixth overall. He posted a 15-14 win in the round of 16 over a foe from MIT before dropping another narrow match to an Engineer, 15-13. Senior Kristen Ha (Bronx, N.Y./Riverdale CDS) was eighth in the women's epee, as she went 4-2 in pool play and upset the No. 7 and No. 10 seeds to reach the direct elimination quarterfinals.
Brandeis is back in action on November 16 in the Northeast Conference Meet of the season.