Fords shine at EWFC individual championships

HOBOKEN, N.J. – The Haverford College women's fencing team competed Sunday in the individual portion of the Eastern Women's Fencing Conference (EWFC) Championships hosted by Stevens Institute of Technology.

In all three weapons, the Haverford's "B" slot fencers out fenced their "A" slot compatriots, with foilist Leila Braun, epeeist Juliana Petersen, and sabriste Francesca Behling all placing third in their respective events. Braun and Petersen are just freshmen, while Behling, registering her highest finish at the event in her career, is a senior captain. All three fencers were awarded first-team all-conference accolades for their efforts.

The Fords' "A" strip fencers, while outshone by their journeymen prodigies, still had excellent finishes. Foilist Katie Elbert, who holds the program record for wins and has dominated on the A strip since her freshman year, placed sixth and earned second-team all-conference recognition. Epeeist Sarah Sofia was fifth, and sabrist Shannon Horn was fourth, both earning first-team all-conference slots. The day's results yielded the largest number of EWFC all-conference fencers in Haverford program history.

Competing in a separate event for the fencers who are not starters on the seven EWFC teams, the Haverford reserves also had a stellar day, as freshman walk-on Elisabeth Hawthorne won the sabre, and foilists Jessica Poling and Julie Ta finished second and third, respectively.

The Haverford fencing coaching staff was also honored with the EWFC 2013 Coaching Staff of the Year award. Recognizing the Fords' second-place finish at the 2013 team championships, where underdog Haverford knocked off Stevens for the first time in four years, but lost to Johns Hopkins University in the final, the Fords' women's team showed focus, determination and skill that drew praise for their coaches. In addition to head coach Christopher Spencer, in his sixth year with the program, the Haverford women are assisted by Jacob Hazel-Cary in the sabre, Ben Van Son and David Ferguson in the foil, and Max Fennell in épée and conditioning. Men's team sabrist Aaron Ruby, an experienced and savvy competitor, has also contributed his heart, soul, and technical skill in helping the women's sabrists improve.

After a much-deserved break next weekend, the team will return to competition on March 2 for the National Intercollegiate Women's Fencing Association championships taking place at Swarthmore College.