MACFA AvC 2020 Recap

Last weekend, our team kicked off the spring semester with a trip to Johns Hopkins for MACFA AvC.  We faced a full day of competition, with our fencers competing against nine different schools.  Here is how each squad did.


William & Mary Men’s Épée took MACFA by storm with a never-before-assembled roster of Pulak Raj ’20, Greg Quigg ’21, and Simon Yue ’22.  Greg displayed his increased arsenal of attacks and scored points on both the offensive and defensive ends of the strip.  However, in tight bouts, Greg’s stop hits and distance shined as he picked up many touches through manipulating his distance and his opponent’s perceived distance with him.  Simon fenced his first tournament in more than a year and surprised all his opponents with his controlled footwork and timing.  If an opponent dared to aggressively march him down, Simon would punish them immediately by attacking into their advance.  Pulak came into MACFA with low expectations due to his injured ankle, but he was able to take down his opponents with his crushing bladework and disengages.  He was unfortunately forced to medically withdraw towards the end of the day, but his teammates stepped up and nabbed some key wins. Men’s Épée scored multiple victories against every school, including the varsity schools, and is ready to keep up the momentum going into MACFA BvC

This tournament our Women’s Épée squad consisted of two fencers, Riley Aiken ’20 and Gwyneth Smith ’23.  Despite this being her first épée tournament, Riley performed very well, winning a bout against a varsity opponent and gaining points in all of her others through a mix of épée and saber technique.  This was only Gwyneth’s second épée tournament, but she managed to win three bouts, including her final one against a member of Drew’s varsity team.  Even though it was an unconventional squad, the two formed a good team and found it to be a successful tournament for Women’s Épée!


Men’s Foil, consisting of Matt Cusick ’20, Stuart Thomas ’21, and Faisal Al-Alami ’20, had an incredible performance at MACFA AvC.  Overall, Men’s Foil finished 6-1, triumphing over Cornell, Rowan, TCNJ, Rutgers, Lafayette, and Maryland.  Impressively, all three fencers won against members of varsity teams.  This result marks a significant improvement since the MACFA C round robin of last semester.  Men’s Foil will head into MACFA Champs with renewed confidence.

Women’s Foil had a great weekend at Johns Hopkins!  Senior Elizabeth Sutterlin ’20 was joined at her final MACFA meet by juniors Jennifer Chen ’21 and Julianne Cook ’21. The squad faced some of its most difficult schools in the morning but rallied their spirits and went undefeated in the afternoon.

Elizabeth started the day with a morning bagel over one of Lafayette’s fencers, and learned from mistakes in her early bouts to improve her game in the afternoon.  She was happiest with her victory over Rutgers’ A-strip.  She relied on her strong defense and effective bladework to win against a difficult opponent.  Julianne picked up some crucial wins against varsity opponents. Her parry-ripostes caught her opponents off guard and she had a great bout against a Rutgers fencer.  Jennifer was the star of the day, expertly controlling the pace of each of her bouts while her opponents struggled to keep up.  She made it clear she was a threat to the competition as she racked up wins over both Navy and Drew’s A-strips. (Having spectator support certainly may have helped!)

The ladies finished the day with a spectacular win over Drew.  Each of the fencers pulled off some key victories, bringing up the bout score until the match came down to the ninth bout.  The pressure didn’t bother Jennifer, who handily ended the day with a 5-0 bout victory.  W&M Women’s Foil was thrilled to earn a match victory over a varsity program and show them what we were capable of.

Special thanks to Seth Daily ’19 for strip coaching and providing advice throughout the day!


Michael Zessin ’23 and Matthew Dreher comprised the men’s saber team.  Michael had a respectable showing in his first MACFA tournament.  Over the course of the day with coaching from alumnus Robert Catlett ’18, MBA ’19, Michael’s fencing improved drastically with him scoring many touches with well-timed counterattacks and decisive actions in the box.  Matthew had finished the day with 7 wins, one being against a varsity fencer from Lafayette.  Though the competition was tough, men’s saber is eager for their next chance to compete.

Women’s Saber was excited to fence so many schools in our first tournament of the semester!  Madeline Myers ’20 used her distance and mental game to go from 1-4 to 5-4 in a bout against Navy.  She also won all three of her bouts against Haverford, a varsity school. Mary McCants ’21 used her off-the-line speed and tricky disengages to fool many opponents, including all three women from Navy.  Clara Magner ’23 continued to show improvement, building on her strong parry ripostes and even getting quick attacks as the day went on.  While Women’s Saber may be done with MACFA for the year, we’re still looking forward to the other tournaments the semester will bring!


Thanks to W&M Fencing alumni Robert Catlett, Seth Daily, and Will Bushman for coming to support our team!  Our team will be back in action on Sunday February 16, when our men’s squads head to NJIT for MACFA BvC.


Victories over Varsity Fencers (a full list of victories since 2012 can be found here)

  • MS: Matthew Dreher ’20
  • MF: Matt Cusick ’20, Faisal Al-Alami ’20, Stuart Thomas ’21
  • ME: Pulak Raj ’20, Greg Quigg ’21, Simon Yue ’22
  • WS: Madeline Myers ’20, Mary McCants ’21
  • WF: Elizabeth Sutterlin ’20, Jennifer Chen ’21, Julianne Cook ’21
  • WE: Riley Aiken ’20, Gwyneth Smith ’23

MACFA C Round-Robin Recap

Our team traveled to Haverford College for the first MACFA tournament of the season!  At MACFA C Round Robin, our team faced varsity opponents from Johns Hopkins and Haverford in addition to Navy’s team.


Elizabeth Sutterlin ’20 and Julianne Cook ’21 formed a composite team with one girl from Johns Hopkins University to round out the Women’s Foil squad. No one would have guessed that Julianne was returning to competition after a hand injury earlier this semester—she earned a varsity victory against a Haverford fencer, and won another tough bout over one of Navy’s fencers. Elizabeth came into the tournament hungry to see the results of her fencing’s growth since last year, and her performance did not disappoint! Elizabeth swept the Haverford squad and only dropped one bout all day. She is already looking forward to facing Hopkins’ full squad and a rematch with Navy’s A-strip at the next MACFA event in the spring.

Men’s Foil, consisting of Matt Cusick ’20, Stuart Thomas ’21, and Faisal Al-Alami ’20 fenced well at MACFA C Round Robin, coming close to beating both Navy and Haverford.  With overall scores of 4-5 against both Navy and Haverford, the tournament was full of fierce bouts where even a single victory could determine the match.  From an individual perspective, every fencer won bouts and Matt came close to winning two bouts against Johns Hopkins, only losing both 4-5. Stuart won a close bout 5-4 against one of Navy’s fencers.  Faisal’s best result came in a 5-1 victory over one of Haverford’s fencers.  The squad’s strong showings give Men’s Foil great confidence moving into next semester’s qualifiers.


Women’s Epee brought a two-person squad comprised of Morgan Blackwelder ’21 and saber fencer Madeline Meyers ’20.  Our fencers formed a composite squad with a fencer from Johns Hopkins and set out against a tough roster of opponents.  Morgan used her patient style of fencing to bait and pick off opponents with her counterattacks.  Madeline called upon her saber experience to come out aggressively.  Her speed threw off her opponents and scored many a touch.  Overall, they fenced well and look forward to their next chance to compete.

On a breezy November weekend, Gregory Quigg ’21, Benjamin Witman ’20, and Winston Palmer ventured North to Haverford, PA for the MACFA C Round-Robin Event, ready for action. Greg used his long reach and even longer experience to stay calm, cool, and collected against strong varsity squads, netting several victories again varsity and club teams alike. Ben, fueled by love for the sport, used his patience and mental fortitude to outlast opponents and make them beg for every point. Winston laughed at opposing fencer’s preps and attacked without hesitation, netting himself a clean, first varsity victory over Haverford. Armed with knowledge and more experience, men’s epee returned to William & Mary ready to prepare for the Spring.


Women’s Saber enjoyed their first MACFA tournament of the year, fencing both Haverford and Navy.  Clara Magner ’23 showed great improvement through her effective parry ripostes.  She earned her first ever tournament win and her first win over a varsity opponent this weekend!  Mary McCants ’21 used quick extensions to catch her opponents off guard.  Riley Aiken ’20 also fenced well, relying on strong parry ripostes and marching her opponents down with powerful long attacks.  The squad looks forward to attending more MACFAs in the spring, and continuing to improve while having fun.

After a series of illnesses and injuries sidelined most of the men’s saber squad, foilists Zahl Azizi ‘22 and Matt Dreher ‘20 joined Nicko Boylan ‘22 for the first MACFA of the year.  Despite having little saber experience prior to the event, both foil fencers secured wins over varsity opponents and carried great attitudes throughout the day.  Matt opened the day against a strong opponent who had previously earned bronze in MACFA Championships. Despite losing the bout 4-5, Matt’s crafty parry ripostes showed the other schools that he would be no easy opponent.  In his next bout, Matt found himself down 1-3.  Undeterred, he came storming back with a sequence of long marching attacks that earned him his first win over a varsity saber fencer.  Zahl’s bouts against Haverford showcased his aggression.  His attacks into preparation intimidated his opponents, which set Zahl up to patiently push his opponents and earn his first varsity win!  Against Johns Hopkins, Zahl surprised his opponents with speedy parry ripostes.  After triumphing over varsity opponents from both Haverford and Johns Hopkins, Zahl cemented his status as a W&M saber fencer when he too had to withdraw from the tournament due to injury.  Nicko’s best fencing came when he took on Navy.  Inside the box, Nicko’s varied setups allowed him to sneak attacks into preparations from unsuspecting opponents.  On defense, Nicko showed great control over the touches.  After repeatedly scoring with his trademark counterattacks, Nicko switched to fake counterattacks, sealing the bouts with his strong parries.


Victories over varsity fencers

  • MS: Zahl Azizi (first), Matt Dreher
  • MF: Matt Cusick, Stuart Thomas, Faisal Alami
  • ME: Winston Palmer (first), Greg Quigg
  • WS: Clara Magner (first), Riley Aiken, Mary McCants
  • WE: Morgan Blackwelder
  • WF: Elizabeth Sutterlin, Julianne Cook

MACFA Champs Recap

This March, our men’s squads drove to Drew University for MACFA Champs, the final tournament of the MACFA season!


Men’s epee sent an experienced roster of Pulak Raj , Ben Coleman, and Greg Quigg into MACFA Champs, ready to take on every opponent the trio faced in MACFA this year. Greg used his well-timed remises to take his opponents by surprise and racked up many upset victories. Ben had a rough start to the day but was able to come back later in the day and pick his opponents wrists to pick up key victories. Pulak used his bladework to hold back his opponents and also continued to the individual round. Men’s epee beat many varsity fencers and is ready to dominate at SIFA.


Men’s Foil fenced well at MACFA Champs. Matthew won multiple bouts, beating notable schools such as Army, Maryland and Yeshiva. Faisal and Ben also won bouts against multiple schools, including some intense 4 to 4 scoreline matches. Although none of men’s foil placed into the direct elimination round, they all placed well within their respective positions.


Daniel Bachman ’20, Robert Catlett ’18, and StevenPressendo ’20 approached their hardest competition of the year with focus and determination.  Daniel opened the day on an incredible note, winning early bouts against Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers, Hunter College, Yeshiva, Maryland, and TCNJ, all before the lunch break.  His sneaky reprises and aggressive beats established early leads that his opponents couldn’t overcome.  Robert’s constant energy kept his teammates positive throughout the day.  Additionally, his patient marches upset several varsity opponents from Lafayette, Hunter, and Yeshiva.  Despite having a rough day, Steven’s active bladework still bested the Drew A strip in front of a large home crowd- Steven’s 6th victory over Drew fencers this season.

Thanks again to those who came to cheer us on last weekend!


Our next event will be the Conomikes-Gutenberg Open (March 16-17) at William & Mary. Our next collegiate tournament will be the VA Cup right here at W&M (Sunday March 23-24).  Our full schedule is posted on our website:


Past recaps can also be found on our website:


Feel free to join our Alumni Facebook Group!



This February, our men’s squads drove to the New Jersery Institute of Technology for MACFA BvC, the second tournament of the spring semester!


Men’s epee went into MACFA BvC sporting the same roster as last week and had another impressive showing. Pulak Raj ’20, Ben Coleman ’19, and Greg Quigg ’21 picked up many big wins, fighting for a high seed at MACFA Champs, including a very closely contested 5-4 victory over Army. Ben didn’t make any of his bouts easy for his opponents, punishing fencers that walk too close into his distance. Pulak and Greg both scored key victories against varsity schools and learned a lot about their opponents through their bouts. Men’s epee looks forward to using what they’ve learned at MACFA Champs and will be practicing in preparation for their strongest competition yet.


Men’s foil fought formidable competition during the MACFA BvC tournament. Representing the squad were Matthew Dreher ’19, Ben Witman ’20, and Stuart Thomas ’21. The trio faced varsity and club fencers from five different schools, scoring a win against one. It was in this round against Yeshiva University that all three foilists won their first bouts against varisty fencers, with Ben coming back from a 0-4 deficit and Stuart winning 5-0. Men’s foil also won two bouts against both Army and Hunter College. The squad looks forward to competing in their next tournament, the MACFA Championsip.


Daniel Bachman ’20, Robert Catlett ’18, Steven Pressendo ’20 finished the MACFA regular season with their strongest results to date.  Daniel improved throughout the day, culminating in a dominant performance against Army.  His aggressive bladework overwhelmed his opponents, and his surprise flunge helped Daniel complete his clean sweep over West Point.  Robert showcased his adaptability by winning bouts in a variety of styles.  His speedy box footwork carried him to comfortable wins over varsity programs like Hunter College and Yeshiva.  Against strong competition from Steven’s IT, Robert’s signature patient offense helped him post one of his best records of the season.  Steven had an incredibly successful day, posting winning records against all schools except the regular season champions- NJIT.  Even though he couldn’t replicate his undefeated record against NJIT, he did still score a win over the reigning individual saber champion.  The saber squad hopes to build on this weekend’s success as they get ready for the upcoming MACFA Championship!

Thanks again to our alumni, current fencers, and families who came to cheer us on!

Individual Varsity Victories:

  • MS: Steven Pressendo, Robert Catlett, Daniel Bachman
  • MF: Ben Witman (first), Stuart Thomas (first), Matt Dreher (first)
  • ME: Pulak Raj, Greg Quigg


Last weekend, our team drove to Drew University for MACFA AvC, the first tournament of the spring semester!


MACFA AvC was an exciting tournament that pushed the limits of every men’s epee fencer. It was a day of unpredictable bouts for Greg Quigg ’21, coming back from two 4-2 deficits to win, picking up his first varsity victory.  Ben Coleman ’19 scored many points with his patented wrist picks and picked his opponents apart with patient feints and disengages.  Pulak Raj ’20 crushed his opponents with his strong parry-ripostes with many key victories over varsity fencers.  Overall, men’s epee learned a lot from MACFA AvC and is ready to practice and improve for their next competition.

William & Mary boasted two veteran women’s epeeists, Charlotte Engel ’19 and Nikki Petzer ’19 at MACFA AvC this past weekend. Resident saberist, Madeline Myers ’20 joined the squad, adapting her saber skills to excel in épée for the event.  Women’s épée made an impressive appearance, earning victories against four out of the five schools they fenced.  Notably, our squad soundly beat Drew’s and CCNY’s varsity teams with a score of 6-3 and 7-2, respectively.  Using her crafty blade work and keen ability to gauge distance, Charlotte decisively won bouts against three varsity fencers.  Likewise, Madeline made a dominating epee debut, utilizing her aggression and remarkable agility to beat three varsity fencers as well.  Nikki came away with six victories against varsity fencers, using her height and newfound aggression to fend off opponents and win bouts.


Men’s foil had a good showing at the most recent MACFA qualifier.  Representing men’s foil were Matt Cusick ’20, Ben Witman ’20, and Faisal Al-Alami ’20.  All three fencers faced fierce competition, but won many bouts nonetheless.  A particularly notable moment came when Ben beat one of Cornell’s fencers.  This was exciting because Cornell’s fencers are highly trained and have a great deal of experience. Men’s foil also had good showings against the other schools, especially Drew and TCNJ.  Foil’s performance at this most recent MACFA is an indicator that we will be ready to stand up to the challenge of the MACFA Championship.

Last weekend, W&M women’s foil was represented by Elizabeth Sutterlin ’20, Julie Vu ’20, and Julianne Cook ’21. The girls had a tough first round against Navy, but Julie earned two clutch victories, setting a great note for the rest of the day.  W&M beat TCNJ, and Elizabeth and Julie went on to each earn victories against Drew’s fencers later that morning.  Julianne usually fences saber, but she proved just how much her foil game had improved when she earned her first varsity victory in foil against CCNY!  She then handily took down another Drew girl later in the day, when W&M had the chance to fence their non-starting squads. Elizabeth’s favorite bout of the day was her 5-2 victory against a Hopkins fencer.  While they won’t be competing at MACFA BvC or the championships, women’s foil is hungry for more competition, and will be eagerly training hard in preparation for Virginia Cup next month.


Last weekend, Daniel Bachman ’19 and Steven Pressendo ’20 joined with foilist Matt Dreher ’19 to put on a strong performance at Drew.  Daniel’s trademark aggression carried him to victories up and down the strip.  He combined his aggressive starts with patient marches that overwhelmed opponents.  When his opponents futilely tried to counterattack, Daniel showcased his adaptability by sealing bouts with beautiful counter-ripostes.  Matt opened the tournament on a high note, with unconventional counterattacks that foiled the attacks of Lafayette’s top fencer.  His fencing improved drastically throughout the day, leading to respectable showings and even a victory in his first saber tournament.  Coming into the event, Steven had beaten fencers from every MACFA school except for Drew.  On Sunday, that changed.  He emerged with a 5-1 record against the host school, highlighted by a decisive win over Drew’s top fencer and a 5-0 score in the final bout of the day.

Women’s saber brought it to MACFA AvC!  Chrysanthi Stevens ’19 fenced smart.  Against aggressive women squads, her favorite move was to make her opponent fall short.  She maintained high spirits throughout the entire tournament and ended the day winning the last bout against a Drew fencer 5-4.  Riley Aiken ’20 was incredibly dynamic and aggressive.  Her fast attacks and parries caught her opponents off guard. The highlight of her day was winning a bout 5-4 against a varsity fencer from Johns Hopkins.  Mary McCants ’21 confidently read her opponents in every one of her bouts.  She scored some amazing counter attacks, feints, and pulls.  Moreover, she masterfully implemented her teammates advice.  Women’s saber preformed incredibly well, and more importantly, had a great time.

Thanks again to our alumni, current fencers, and families who came to cheer us on last weekend!

Victories against Varisty Fencers:

  • MS: Steven Pressendo, Daniel Bachman
  • MF: Matt Cusick, Faisal Alami
  • ME: Ben Coleman, Pulak Raj, Greg Quigg (first)
  • WS: Mary McCants, Riley Aiken (first), Chrysanthi Stevens
  • WF: Elizabeth Sutterlin, Julie Vu, Julianne Cook (first)
  • WE: Charlotte Engel (first), Madeline Myers, Nikki Petzer