Where in the World is W&M Fencing? (Start of Year Update)

With classes back in session, the fencing team can hardly wait to start practicing again. But they didn’t leave their blades in their bags all summer. Our returning members attended other fencing clubs to keep their skills sharp in cities throughout the country and abroad. This summer, our fencers went as far as Russia and Jordan to keep up with practicing.


[Image: A fencing club in St. Petersburg, Russia, where Elizabeth Sutterlin (Foil ’20) practiced during her summer study abroad program.]

Many of our most recent alumni are also still involved in fencing, too. Many have chosen to continue at their nearby clubs, throughout Virginia and the greater east coast. Gabriella Carney (Saber ’18) qualified for the Puerto Rican national team at the end of the spring semester. She then competed in the Pan-American Championships in Cuba over the summer, where she faced off against opponents like U.S. Olympian Dagmara Wozniak! After competing, she returned to the U.S. and began a coaching position at the Virginia Academy of Fencing.


[Images: Gabriella Carney (Saber ’18) in Puerto Rico and Cuba.]

Practice starts on Monday, and our fencers couldn’t be more thrilled to come back with fresh fighting spirit and teach each other the lessons they’ve learned this summer. See you all on the strip soon!


Victory at VA Cup! (End of Year Update)

As the year comes to a close, we would like to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the 2017-2018 season: the alumni who came to tournaments to coach and cheer us on, the families who hosted us when we traveled this year, and everyone who has offered their time and guidance to the team. William & Mary Fencing team would not have enjoyed such a successful year without each and every one of you.

William and Mary closed out a great season last weekend at the Virginia Cup, hosted this year at James Madison University.  All our hard work this year paid off, and the Cup remains (newly polished) in our trophy case until next year. We swept the women’s events, winning first place in women’s epee, foil, and saber, and our ladies dominated the podium in the individual events as well. Our men’s saber squad also took home gold, while men’s foil and epee each placed third against stiff competition. Read on for a detailed recap of the tournament:

Women’s Epee

This past weekend, William and Mary’s Women’s Epee continued on a tradition of winning 1st place for the past 4 years in Virginia Cup. Both Ruoying Hao ’18 and Cecilia Hoover ’18 fenced their final collegiate tournament, along with Nicole Petzer ’19, and swept the podium, with Cecilia earning 1st, Ruoying 2nd, and Nicole 3rd. Nicole took advantage of her height in her final DE, flustering her opponent with fast counterattacks to the wrist, and handily defeating her. Ruoying stumped her opponents with her sheer aggression, ending the day undefeated in pools. Cecilia also ended the day undefeated, with her first DE finishing in three flicks to the foot, and her final DE ending with her knocking out Ruoying for 1st. Our women’s epee is proud to have won all three podium places for the past four years, and looks forward to the underclassmen to continue the tradition!

Women’s Foil

Women’s foil was poised and focused the whole day, and it took them all the way to the top, as Alex Marto ‘18, Elizabeth Sutterlin ‘20, and Julie Vu ‘20 wrecked every school that faced them. Julie used her quick reactions to change tempo and score impressive remises on her opponents throughout the day, dropping only two bouts in the team round. Julie’s fencing especially shone in the round against Liberty, as she swept the school and defeated their tall left-handed fencer with her own lefty tricks. After fencing their hardest in the team round, the sophomore girls faced off in individuals. It was like our weekly practice had been transplanted to JMU, as each girl praised the other after a great touch and laughed with each other through the bout. They ended with a warm hug, sending Elizabeth into the semifinals, where Elizabeth’s intense focus, timing, and effective disengages brought her to victory. Exhausted but happy, she pushed through the final bout to take second place on the pedestal. She was a fountain of wisdom and encouragement through both the women’s and men’s day. Her dedication to her teammates, impeccable skills, and her love of fencing gives graduating senior Alex great joy to leave foil squad with her taking the reins.

Alex went into her last tournament ready to tear it up, and tear it up she did. She kept her feet moving, throwing off many of her opponents with her energy and fantastic distance. After facing the first seed in semifinals, she faced off for third place. In the final bout of her college career, she was fencing against a tall, left-handed, Liberty fencer who had beat her earlier in the day. Throughout the bout she was down by 3 touches at the end of the first and second periods, finally tying it up with 9 seconds left.  With the support of her president, co-captains, and teammates, Alex won her final DE 8-7, with a single light touch in overtime with 15 seconds left on the clock. It was a victorious way to give a last salute to everything this team has given her. She wants to thank everyone on this team, past and present. She can’t be more proud to have seen her squad grow so much. Ét La!

Women’s Saber

Women’s saber came out in full force for this year’s Virginia Cup. Madeline Myers ’20 valiantly led Riley Aiken ’20 and Mary McCants ’21 to victory, while Emory Magner ’19 defected to JMU to fill out a composite squad. Madeline showed her new counter-attacks and quick pulls off the line in individuals, earning her a well-deserved silver medal. Riley, making her first tournament appearance since SIFA North proved that she had earned her spot, deftly beating opponents throughout the day. Mary has become a veteran of the strip and reminded the JMU team that though small she may be, she is fierce. Emory, despite fencing for the other team, never pulled a punch and fenced hard, showing grace in both victory and defeat as is expected of a W&M fencer. W&M took first overall, and Madeline, Riley, and Mary medaled for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place, respectively. Following the competition, Emory was welcomed back to WM with open arms, and a spirited volley of scrimmage bouts earned us the friendship of JMU women’s saber.

Men’s Saber

The men’s saber team took to the strips for the last time this year against our Virginia rivals. Steven Pressendo ’19, Eric Alpert ’18, and Robert Catlett ’18 aimed for nothing short of glory throughout the day. Despite other teams having a few strong individuals, the depth of talent on the William and Mary team won bout after bout. Pushing through injuries, Steven’s tactical knowledge guided him and his teammates through every school. Eric bested even the strongest of opponents in the team rounds and helped secure early leads. Robert took full advantage of new techniques and a floor that wasn’t made out of concrete to punish opponents with patient long attacks. In the individual rounds, Steven faced a former teammate of his but took the edge with a combination of smart and dynamic fencing, earning gold at the end of the day. Eric took his last stand for WM in the bronze medal bout and pushed through exhaustion to score vital touches that earned him the medal. Robert drew an unlucky bracket placement but fenced amazingly coming in 5th place. The men ended the year on a high note, taking team and individual glory back to Williamsburg.

Men’s Epee

Our men’s epee squad of Pulak Raj ’20, William Bushman ’18 and Benjamin Coleman ’19 once again stormed into VA Cup with their eye(s) on the title. This year’s competition was very different from last year’s men’s epee competition with many skilled freshmen joining the other universities. Ben used his strong en garde and parries to stand as the brick wall most fencers could not get past. He picked up key victories against some nationally rated fencers. Will was on fire, and won too many bouts to count. Nothing could stop his excellent distance and long fleches. Pulak used his classic fencing style consisting of quick beats to the foot and attacking into preparation to help propel the men’s epee squad into 3rd place at the VA Cup. Pulak also placed 3rd in the individual round. Overall, the competition at VA Cup was exponentially stronger but William and Mary’s men’s epeeists pulled through with a strong finish and is optimistic for the squad’s future.

Men’s Foil

Faisal Alami ’20 led Stuart Thomas ’21 and Ben Witman ’20 to JMU to defend the Virginia Cup. Men’s foil won third place overall. Stuart’s aggression and well timed attacks in prep were instrumental in his victories. Ben’s patience on the defense gave him some dangerous parry 4-ripostes. Faisal’s disengages and counter attacks helped him place 5th in the individual round. Men’s foil did great all around and this tournament topped off a year’s work of achievement quite nicely.



Traveling and competing at huge tournaments like USACFC would not be feasible without the generosity of our alumni and families. In honor of One Tribe One Day, we challenge you to join us in giving back and paying it forward, to ensure that William & Mary can continue to fence schools from all over the country. Click here to give now and support the campaign for William & Mary! Donations can be made either to the team directly (code 4348) or to the Peter Conomikes Memorial Endowment Fund (code 3745).

The team left Friday afternoon to compete in our biggest tournament of the year. Two days of intensive fencing left us sore on the van ride home, but the fierceness of the competition made our team fight for every touch we scored and learn from each one we received. Full numerical results for this weekend’s tournament can be found here. Recaps of each squad’s performance follow.

Women’s Saber – Gabriella Carney ’18

W&M women’s saber made history by taking fourth place out of twenty three schools. Gabriella Carney ‘18, Chrysanthi Stevens ‘19, and Madeline Myers ‘20 fought their way one bout at a time from the very start of CFCs. They fenced harder and smarter than they had ever done before and never gave up. Madeline surprised several unsuspecting opponents with beautifully timed counterattacks and parry ripostes. Her distance on defense frustrated many fencers, even the UMass captain. Despite the slippery floors, Chrysanthi dominated the strip on many an occasion, such as carrying out a colorful “taste the rainbow” parry 5-riposte on a Dartmouth fencer. She used her quick attacks when they counted the most, allowing her to defeat her opponents. Gabriella remained determined to challenge herself and opponents throughout the day and was proud to make it to individuals.

Men’s Saber – Eric Alpert ’18

This weekend Steven Pressendo, Eric Alpert, and Robert Catlett advanced to the biggest tournament of the year. The women set a high bar in the morning which only inspired the men to push themselves just as hard in their own bouts. The first day was difficult, the waxed concrete floors were not great for anyone’s long lunges and many of the top schools and individuals were all in our pool. We finished 16th after the pools and during the long second day of fencing climbed out way up to 13th overall. Steven’s tactical prowess shone throughout the day, having extensively scouted opponents and providing the entire squad with advice and strategies that lead to a number of wins. Eric fought hard and when he found his rhythm he dismantled his opponents before they could figure out his own. Robert put on impressive displays both days, showing tremendous grace as the slippery floor tried to bring him down. Despite its best efforts, not even the very ground he fenced on could slow his relentless long attacks. CFCs has always stood as a trial not only to skill but also endurance, teamwork, and how far one can push themselves during the grueling days. To every end, the men’s saber squad stuck together and dug deep through two of the toughest days of fencing I’ve experienced in my four years. I could not have asked for better teammates, and the support we received from the women and members of the other squads proved that together we continue to grow as a better and stronger team.

Women’s Epee – Cecilia Hoover ’18

Last weekend, William and Mary’s Women’s Epee went to UT to take names. Ruoying Hao ’18 and Nicole Petzer ’19 led by Cecilia Hoover ’18 finished 11th overall after two days of fierce fencing. Ruoying showed off her quick hand and great point control, wrecking the UPitt A strip in her final bout with well timed wrist picks and counterattacks. Nicole, while continuing her tradition of giving all those watching a heart attack, proved that just because you have one foot off the strip doesn’t mean you’re out of your element, successfully winning bouts in the warning box. Cecilia had her personal best showing this year, finally making it into individuals, winning 15th overall, and bageling the UMich A strip on her climb to the top. Women’s epee is looking forward to continuing their success in the coming weekends at VA Cup!

Men’s Epee – Pulak Raj ’20

A strong men’s epee team consisting of Pulak Raj ’20, William Bushman ’18, and Ben Coleman ’19 entered CFCs with high hopes and expectations. Ben Coleman relentlessly punished his opponents for exposing their arm by precisely picking their wrists. He won a key bout against The University of Chicago in the round of 32, pushing the squad past UChicago without even having to fence all 9 bouts. He even won his bout against Cornell, the 2nd place epee squad. Will Bushman was unstoppable with his long fleches and ranged counter attacks. Will was on fire during the pool round, boasting a very strong 8-4 record and almost qualified for the individual round. Although he broke almost all his blades in the process, Will won important bouts during the elimination round, vital to securing our final position. Pulak Raj, using a combination of quick foot touches and strong parries took down many tough fencers. Although he had a rough start in the pool round, he helped the team make the final push in the elimination round to secure their place in the top 16. In the end, the men’s epeeists put in everything to live up to their expectations, and are determined to showcase their true potential in two weeks at the Virginia Cup.

Women’s Foil – Alex Marto ’18

Women’s foil hung tough this weekend against some of the hardest schools we have faced all year, finishing in 15th out of the 27 schools who dared to face these triumphant women. Veteran Alex Marto ‘18, anchor Elizabeth Sutterlin ‘20, and freshman Jennifer Chen ‘21 had grace, poise, and aggression throughout the 2-day event. The girls were cheered on by alumna Rose Mayo (Epee ’16) during the pool round on Saturday. Alex made every touch count either winning or losing 5-4 in what was the hardest pool of the 3 they were placed. Elizabeth finished strong, defeating Clemson’s A strip and bageling Indiana’s A strip. Jennifer never lost her energy. She landed her attacks surprising her opponent every bout. During Sunday’s direct eliminations, women’s foil started the day with an impressive upset, defeating Boston University 5-4. Jennifer ran into overtime against BU’s A strip winning by a single light touch, 3-2, with her opponent having priority and 15 seconds on the clock. One of the biggest nail biters of the day for sure. In the top 8 bracket, we were close to victory against UVA and each girl left with their heads high. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all the women I have had the honor to fence with all four years at this college. You have made me a better person as well as a better fencer and I couldn’t be more proud to call foil my home.

Men’s Foil – Faisal Alami ’20

In this year’s CFCs, Faisal Alami ’20 led Brandon Mullins ’20 and Francis Winn ’20 to fence men’s foil. While it was an uphill battle for the three sophomores and former hall mates, each of them learned a lot from over the weekend and improved their fencing as the day went on. Brandon used the aggression of a sabreuer to score very quick advance lunges and Francis used the patience of an épéeist to lure his opponents in before getting quick parry 4 ripostes. Faisal’s quick eskeeves and ballestra lunges were critical for his bouts. All of men’s foil got some great fencing in over the weekend in the face of difficult circumstances, and they’ll only reach greater heights in the future.


SIFA Championships Recap

Last weekend the team traveled to UNCG once again for SIFA Championships. We had a historic showing with a number of team and personal bests throughout the weekend, and many fencers agree that this was one of the most fun and intense competitions we’ve been to in a long while.

Men’s Epee

Veteran epees Will Bushman (’18) and Ben Coleman (’19), joined by the usually saber Ephraim Kozodoy (’21), swept into SIFA ready to prove their mettle. Will led the charge with his trusty french grips and beautiful counterattacks to elegantly evade his opponents. Ben, the only returning member of last year’s SIFA squad, realized how far his footwork and parries had come since by sweeping the same ECU squad that had previously befuddled him. Ephraim put the speed he learned as a saber to good use pressuring his foes, winning the moral victory through an actual victory over another saber turned epee. Though questionable organizational decisions cut the men just shy of proving their true merit in DEs, they left with heads held high, even hungrier for the challenges of tournaments to come.

Women’s Epee:

Nikki Petzer, (’19) and Annette Kang, (’19), led by Cecilia Hoover, (’18) took SIFA by storm, winning 3rd place overall. Annette steadily improved throughout the day and her carefully calculated counterattacks led her opponents to ruin, and her well-timed fleches surprised even the veterans of the competition. Nikki, after fencing someone who exactly matched her style and technique, won the key victory of Florida by running the clock down to priority and then running down her opponent before getting the touch with a second remaining. Cecilia came to take names, and served several bagels to both Florida and JMU, ending the day almost undefeated.

Men’s Foil:

SIFA Champs was a great time for the men’s foil squad. The men’s foil squad came in to the tournament seeded 7th out of 11th and finished in 6th, only one bout away from 5th. This change in rank might not be massive, but it is still a sign of success and improvement. All three fencers: Matt Cusick (’20), Ben Witman (’20), and Faisal Alami (’20) won their fair share of bouts and contributed to the squad’s success. By working together, and with the help of the women’s foil squad, they were able to beat ECU 5-4 and UGA 5-3 in pools, and then U Florida 5-3 in the DE stage. All three men’s foilists learned a lot from SIFA Champs and it is a marker of great things to come.

Women’s Foil:

Women’s foil finished in 5th overall at UNC- Greensboro this weekend. Freshmen Molly McCue (‘21) and Polala Wang (‘21) made their debut at the SIFA champs circuit lead by Senior Alex Marto (‘18). The first round of pools of the day were neck-and-neck against Florida state, GA Tech, and George Washington University. Each pool resulted in either 5 to 4 win/losses with each fencer fighting for every touch. Molly approached each point with patience and grace with her parry-ripostes. She bagled GA Tech twice that day. She clinched the DE victory against that school, moving us to the next round of the bracket. Polala was a firecracker of energy, intimidating most of her opponents with her aggressive attacks and landing most of her touches with ferocity. Alex never gave up and didn’t drop a single bout in the final DE against University of Georgia. The last bout was the optimal mix of perfecting timing and patience with a single light touch, winning it for women’s foil and securing 5th place in the tournament. Alex’s glorious roar echoed the hard work the squad achieved at this tournament. Molly, Polala, and Alex are more than proud of what all of them had achieved and are excited for future tournaments. Way to go girls!

Men’s Saber:

Men’s saber came into the day with Eric Alpert (’18) leading Robert Catlett (’18), and Andre Coscia (’19), a squad that last competed together nearly two years ago at the VA Cup. Together, the trio proved to be quite the team to beat, earning early wins against very tough opponents. Eric’s patience and smart fencing left even some of the best fencers in the room staggering. Robert’s relentless long attacks proved to be more than a match for nearly every opponent who he marched down the strip. Andre found his footwork halfway through the day and showed that he has a tremendous ability to learn and grow in the middle of tournaments. The men finished the day in second place, a new high for the squad and a great accomplishment for the fencers.

Women’s Saber:

The women of the saber squad might not have been the tallest in the room but they more than made up for it in determination and skill. Chrysanthi Stevens (’19), Emory Magner (’19), and freshman Mary McCants (’21) brought everything they had to a weekend of fencing. Chrysanthi found her rhythm in strong parries with quick ripostes. Emory stole points from opponents with good extensions off the line and managed to overcome nerves to win key 4-4 bouts. Mary upset opponents twice her high with aggressive attacks and quick feet that carried her through the long day. In the end, the strong showing got the girls to a fifth place finish, a testament to all of the work and care they bring to the sport every week.

William & Mary’s fencers are looking forward to competing at USACFC next weekend!


MACFA Championships Recap

As most of campus headed home for spring break, the men of W&M Fencing drove up to Lafayette College in Pennsylvania to compete in MACFA Championships. The team was supported by parents and alumni who came to watch the competition, and finished the day with an impressive showing, earning the spot of top club team in the league for men’s saber. Two of our sophomores, Pulak Raj (Epee) and Steven Pressendo (Saber), qualified for the individual round.  Recap and highlights follow below:

Saber squad had an incredibly successful weekend. Our saberists finished 6 places higher than they did last year, earning top club honors along the way. Troy Cullen went undefeated against club opponents. His upset victory over Hunter College distinguished William & Mary as one of only two teams that beat Hunter’s saber squad. No set captured Daniel Bachman’s improvement more than his bout against Navy. He surprised his opponent with his patience, racking up quick ripostes. After lulling his opponent into a sense of security, he exploded off the line and completed W&M’s clean sweep over Navy. Steven Pressendo started the day solidly, upsetting both Steven’s IT and NJIT. He closed out the group stage with a number of come-from-behind victories to earn his place in the individual round. With his last victory over NJIT, Steven completed his perfect record against Division I opponents this season.

Men’s epee sent a young squad of Pulak Raj, Ben Coleman and Jonathan Griggs, who entered MACFA Champs undaunted by their low preliminary seeding and demonstrated why William and Mary should not be underestimated. Freshman Jonathan Griggs, fencing in his first large tournament, used his unparalleled reach and point control to set up attacks from a long distance and picked up huge wins that led to victories over varsity schools. Junior Ben Coleman, the veteran of the group, used his new style using active footwork and wrist feints to pick apart his opponents and won many key bouts. Sophomore Pulak Raj used his patience and parries to crush his opponents, even pulling of a 3-2 win over TCNJ’s A strip. Pulak also advanced to the individual tournament as the 4th seed on A strip. All in all, men’s epee had a great performance at MACFA Champs, finishing not only above their preliminary seeding, but also four places better than last year.

MACFA Champs was an exciting event that tested all the men’s foil fencers. All were able to get an understanding of how prepared they needed to be to perform at our expected levels. Despite many defeats, the squad stayed positive and focused on how they could improve bout to bout. Fortunately, Alumnus George Bognar (Foil ’15) came to the event and provided valuable insights for the squad. At the end of the day, they were all exhausted, but had learned a lot and enjoyed the tournament. Ben Witman ’20 came very close to winning a 4-5 bout, and won 2 or 3 bouts 5-0 by forfeit! Both Ben Clark ’21 and Matt Cusick ’20 managed 1 bout win against different schools. It was a tough competition, but men’s foil is ready to work to improve.



Last weekend was the third and final installment of this year’s MAFCA regular season.  The team traveled to NJIT to take on a series of varsity teams and service academies.


  • First victories over varsity fencers for: Ben Clark ’21 and Troy Cullen ’21,
  • Other victories over varsity fencers for: Jonathan Griggs ’21, Faisal Alami ’20, Daniel Bachman ’20, Ben Coleman ’19, and Steven Pressendo ’19

Men’s Saber: Troy Cullen, Daniel Bachman, and Steven Pressendo took on their toughest competition of the season and still managed to post an impressive showing. Troy opened the day with his first ever victory over a varsity fencer, which he quickly followed up with several others against Stevens IT and Yeshiva. His beautiful disengages were so effective that referees and spectators alike laughed at his opponent’s unsuccessful attempts to slow him down. Daniel showed incredible progress throughout the day, closing out with a victory over a dominant Hunter College squad. His speed and aggression surprised even the most experienced opponents, winning crucial bouts for our school. Steven had his most successful MACFA showing to date, featuring a clean sweep of regular season champions NJIT. This trio will look to build off their regular season success when they return to MACFA Championships next weekend.

Women’s Saber: Emory Magner, serving for her first time as acting squad captain, led Madeline Myers and Susan Sun in a day of hard work and excellent fencing. Although the lack of available strips and relatively few competing women’s squads led to long delays between bouts, the trio never lost momentum throughout the day, and ultimately defeated Army eight bouts to one in the final round. Susan found her footing as the day went on, and struck a balance of speed and control that her opponents could not keep up with. Madeline secured many a well-timed counterattack, and won all three of her bouts against Army.

Men’s Foil: Faisal Alami, Ben Clark, and Ben Witman took to the men’s strips this weekend in the last MACFA of the season. The day started against tough opponents in NJIT and Stevens but by the second half of the day all three fencers found their footing. Faisal beat Hunter’s foil captain with quick absence bladework, Ben Clark overwhelmed Yeshiva with his aggression and fast coupés, and Ben Witman had a good sense of distance to land party ripostes against Army. High spirits all around moving into champs!

Women’s Foil: Women’s foil last weekend was a motley assortment, but they still managed to take MACFA AvC by storm. Epeeist Cecilia Hoover ’18 and freshman saberist Julianne Cook ’21 joined Elizabeth Sutterlin ’20 to take on some difficult bouts with NJIT and to win a thrilling victory over Navy. Cecilia was a powerhouse, fencing for both foil and epee squads. Her quick lame-changes between bouts surprised her opponents, almost as much as her great distance and offensive touches. Hazel came in to the tournament as an underdog with only a week’s worth of foil experience, but showed the other schools she was not to be discounted. It was incredible to watch her learn on the strip throughout the day, improving her footwork and bladework to win an impressive bout against Navy. With the lessons from last week’s competition still fresh in her mind, Elizabeth focused on playing to her strengths. She swept Navy and used her defensive game to score beautiful parry-ripostes on all her opponents.

Men’s Epee: Having survived the New Jersey snow, Ben Coleman, Jonathan Griggs, and William Clements feared nothing their opponents could to do them. Persevering through his tournament debut, William counterattacked opponents who underestimated him to remarkably improve throughout the day. Johnathan’s counters earned him considerable success, but truly shone in recognizing his opponents styles to aid himself and his teammates against them. Ben supplemented his strong parries with increasingly active footwork to have his most successful MACFA yet.

Women’s Epee: Despite the weather’s multiple attempts to keep William and Mary’s women’s epee from surviving long enough to take names, they came out of swinging last Sunday. Sarah Sues and Ruoying Hao, led by Cecilia Hoover came to New Jersey to drink coffee and fight, and they were all out of coffee. Sarah quickly adapted to adversity, and with her quick use of parries, confused her opponents into getting too close to her where she finished with fast extensions. Ruoying made use of tempo changes to drive her opponents down the strip, and finished with fast disengages. Cecilia, despite fencing both epee and foil, fought back exhaustion to beat two of the varsity NJIT fencers, and finished the day only dropping a single bout. Women’s epee is looking forward to taking more names in the coming months!

William and Mary’s men’s team will be competing in MACFA Championships at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania on March 4th. Join us in cheering for them over spring break!



The William and Mary team headed up to Johns Hopkins to take on the second MACFA of the season. Competition was tough but every squad fenced valiantly and several new faces made their competitive debut with the team.


  • First victories over varsity fencers: Jonathan Griggs ’21, Morgan Blackwelder ’21, Matt Cusick ’20, Daniel Bachman ‘20, and Julie Vu ’20
  • Other victories over varsity fencers: Nikki Petzer ’19, Pulak Raj ’20, Eric Alpert ’18, Robert Catlett ’18, Nathan Robichaud ’18, Gabriella Carney ’18, and Cecilia Hoover ’18

Men’s Saber: Eric Alpert led the charge this week with Robert Catlett and first-time MACFA fencer Daniel Bachman close behind. Nothing stopped the trio from pushing themselves to adapt against new fencers throughout the day, proving that quick thinking and constantly learning pays dividends at the end of bouts. Eric stood tall and won a number of bouts against talented opponents with a variety of actions that kept opponents guessing. Robert’s long lunges and quick feet keep his opponents exactly where he needed them so that he could score touch after touch. Daniel, despite a tough fall early in the day, rallied and learned to trust his parries to carry him through bouts even against the fastest of opponents.

Women’s Saber: All three teammates, Gabriella Carney, Riley Aiken, and Mary McCants, beautifully demonstrated the result of hard-work and determination from practice in each MACFA bout.  Mary won her first bout against Navy in her very first tournament.  Throughout the day, she acquired many touches with aggressive but patient long attacks and deep lunges.  Riley performed very well with quality parries and ripostes along with on point remises, that especially caught TCNJ off-guard.  Gabriella is proud to have won all three bouts against Navy, but she is even prouder of her teammates’ progress throughout the day.  The three fencers returned to Williamsburg stronger than ever.

Men’s Epee: Men’s epee had a great all-around performance. Pulak Raj led Nathan Robichaud, John Griggs, and Greg Quigg, John and Greg making their MACFA debuts in a big fashion. They had a rough start but finished strong with a perfect 9-0 victory over Lafayette, John and Pulak even defeating opponents 5-0. John used a combination of counter attacks and long attacks to take down his opponents while Greg used his defensive arsenal to prevent opponents from scoring on him. Nathan’s opponents could not dodge his wrist attacks while Pulak closed out his bouts with foot touches.

Women’s Epee: Last weekend, Nikki Petzer, Morgan Blackwelder, and Cecilia Hoover, came to MACFA looking to take names. Defeating 3 out of 4 schools, women’s epee proved once again that William and Mary is a force to be reckoned with. Nikki, ever slow and steady, used her lefty tricks to pick off the wrists of her opponents, and won key bouts against Johns Hopkins and TCNJ. Morgan, using her patience to outwit her opponents, handily beat the TCNJ captain, and kept her head about her against much more aggressive fencers. Cecilia finished out the day by winning a bout with three foot touches, ending the day undefeated. Women’s epee is looking forward to take more names in the upcoming semester!

Men’s Foil: Matt Cusick brought Ben Clark and Ben Witman to the first MACFA event of the semester. Every school was contentious but the guys fenced well even against more experienced teams, winning bouts from every school through hard work and clean actions. They each learned valuable lessons from their bouts, and even implemented what they had learned in later bouts to great success. Matt Cusick defeated the captains of Cornell and TCNJ. This MACFA was difficult, but it left the squad with plenty of knowledge about how to improve in time for MACFA Champs.

Women’s Foil: Women’s foil came up against some real challenges at last weekend’s tournament, but each girl found something to take away from each bout, and the squad refused to be discouraged or intimidated by the stiff competition. Jennifer Chen ’21 scored impressive touches against her opponents with the excellent distance and clean bladework. Julie Vu ’20 showed just how much she has improved her offensive game over the last months, furiously pushing her varsity opponents down the strip. Her excellent fencing won the squad an important bout against Drew. Elizabeth Sutterlin ’20 had a number of contentious bouts, using her sense of timing to score touches on varsity women with height advantages. Her focus on improving the mental game of her fencing culminated in a huge win against TCNJ in the final round. At the end of the day, women’s foil emerged proud of the effort they put in, and determined to train even harder in preparation for our tournaments later this semester.



MACFA C Round-Robin Recap

Last weekend the team traveled to Haverford for the first MACFA meet of the year. Spirits were high and the competition was awesome all day long.


  • Our first school-wide victory over Navy in MACFA
  • First victories over varsity fencers for: Polala Wang ’21, Liam Hyde ’20, Madeline Myers ’20, Gaetan Poirier ’19, Ruoying Hao ’18
  • Other victories over varsity fencers: Steven Pressendo ’19, Pulak Raj ’20, Benjamin Coleman ’19, Chrysanthi Stevens ’19, Gabriella Carney ’18, Cecilia Hoover ’18
  • Highest rated defeated opponents: #15 defeated by Hyde, #2 defeated by Pressendo

Men’s Foil: The competition at Haverford was extremely tough, but Faisal Alami ’20, Matt Cusick ’20, and Stuart Thomas ’21 fenced very well regardless. Matt 3-0’d Navy, and even scored a back touch on an unsuspecting opponent. Faisal’s energy and aggression were key in his victories. When it looked like the odds were not in Stuart’s favor, he would land strong counterattacks to even things up.  All three men’s foilists managed to score a number of great touches against Johns Hopkins and Haverford. Pushing hard through the highs and lows, the squad is eager to continue to sharpen their skills at future MACFA events.

Women’s Foil: Elizabeth Sutterlin ’20, Julie Vu ’20, and Polala Wang ’21 arrived at Haverford on Saturday pumped up and ready to take on the stiff competition. They defeated Navy 6-3 in the first round, Elizabeth winning her last bout in a contentious 4-4 overtime. But the biggest win of the day for foil squad wasn’t against another school at all, but our own equipment. Broken foils abounded, but after the only lefty foil stopped working, Julie was unfazed, calmly using her armory skills in a pinch to swap grips with a team weapon and continue fencing. The match against Haverford on their home turf was full of close, nail-biting bouts. Polala shone under pressure, winning the squad’s only victory for that round 5-4. The final bouts against Johns Hopkins were, as Julie put it, “insightful.” All three girls returned to Williamsburg having learned a lot from the day, excited to keep practicing in preparation for our spring competitions.

Women’s Epee: Ready to show the MACFA schools what they got, Morgan Blackwelder, ‘21, Ruoying Hao, ‘18, and Cecilia Hoover, ‘18 rolled into Haverford ready to win. Despite it being her first tournament, Morgan showed how hard she’d been training, with well-timed counterattacks. Ruoying, with her non-stop aggression, pushed opponents to the limit, nearly running several girls off strip. Cecilia showed off her new ability to flick, defeating Haverford’s A-strip in a tough 4-5 match.

Men’s Epee: With some new blood, men’s epee, consisting of Ben Coleman, ‘19, Pulak Raj, ‘20, and Gaёtan Poirier, ‘19, was ready to show what William and Mary could do. Ben used his steady tempo to his advantage, luring opponents too close then finishing them with a devastating 8-parry. Pulak, fresh off of earning his B, used his active footwork combined with crushing 4 parry to wreck all opponents in his way. In his first collegiate tournament, Gaёtan got into the spirit of competition and showed how well he handle himself on the strip. In all, men’s epee is looking forward to crush the competition in the upcoming MACFA’s!

Women’s Saber: At the start of the day, W&M saber was put up against Navy, one of our most challenging competitors.  However, our women’s saber fencers were fresh and ready to put up a good fight.  Madeline Myers, ’20, beautifully sky-hooked her flabbergasted opponent.  Chrysanthi Stevens, ’19, repeatedly made her opponents taste the rainbow (aka the term for a sassy parry five and immediate repost). Our next competitors, Maryland, didn’t bring their women’s fencers, but that certainly didn’t stop Emory Magner, ’19, from bouting the men’s squad and beating one of them with killer lunges.  Finally, as her proudest moment, Gabriella Carney, ’18, won 5-3 against Hopkin’s varsity lefty, which was her last bout of the day.  Overall, our women’s saber fencers had a great time and learned a lot.

Men’s Saber: The men’s saber squad had a great day, toppling each club and taking bouts off each varsity team that we met.  Troy Cullen ‘21 went undefeated against Maryland, leading the squad to victory.  His fancy flunges and unbreakable focus impressed schools throughout the entire day.  Despite trouncing his first opponents, he still managed to fence more intelligently as the day progressed.  Andre Coscia ‘19 opened the day with a 5-0 victory over a rival from Navy.  With Andre’s win, men’s saber beat Navy resoundingly and clinched WM’s first school-wide MACFA victory over Navy.  With his sneaky counterattacks, Liam Hyde ‘20 surprised opponents all day.  After a series of speedy ripostes, Liam launched a quick attack off the line to score his first victory over a varsity fencer.  Steven Pressendo ’19 had fun reuniting with (and beating) old friends at other schools.  His biggest victory of the day came when he upset the silver medalist from last year’s MACFA Championships.  After a great kickoff to the MACFA season, our squad can’t wait for our next shot at competition.

Et La!



SIFA North Recap

The competitive season has begun and we were tremendously excited to show off all of our new freshmen at UVA last weekend. They certainly made us proud, showing a tremendous level of sportsmanship, and even bringing home a number of prizes.


On Saturday, Faisal Alami, Stuart Thomas, and Ben Witman took to the strip. Faisal started strong and kept his energy up throughout a tiring day of contentious matches. Stuart and Ben shone with potential at their first tournament (or maybe that was just their shiny new lames.) Despite only a few weeks of training, they intimidated even the most seasoned of the other team’s foilists. The trio faced some challenging opponents, but only grew stronger as the day went on, learning from every new bout. At the end of DEs, men’s foil took 4th place. There was no individual men’s foil event.

On Sunday, Elizabeth Sutterlin, Jennifer Chen, and Polala Wang came prepared to put up a fight. After a rocky start to the day, each of the girls found her element and showed the other schools just what she could do. Polala overwhelmed her opponents with speedy attacks, and Jennifer’s adroit footwork made her a force to be reckoned with. Elizabeth went undefeated in the DE round. The squad lost in the ninth bout to UVA in the semifinals, but rallied just in time to steamroll JMU and win third place. There was no individual women’s foil event.


After a long year of preparing to return to this tournament, Xiaopeng Sun, ‘19, Francis Winn, ‘20, and Robert Catlett took SIFA North by storm. Winning 3rd place overall, men’s epee proved that William and Mary can send a saberist and two sophomores and still make a wave. Francis, using his height for his advantage, tricked opponents into falling victim to his crafty upper-the-wrist touches. Xiaopeng honed his fleche, surprising opponents with fast touches, wrecking opponents who were slower than him. Despite his previous sabre experience, Robert proved that a long lunge and tip on target can win bouts just as well as fancy bladework. Congrats to the William and Mary Men’s Epee!

Women’s epee this weekend was made up of Kirsten Clamann ’19, Nikki Petzer ’19, and Chrysanthi Stevens ’19. Women’s epee had a fantastic tournament despite the lack of other schools fielding women’s epee squads. Chrysanthi shamelessly pushed her opponents down the strip with the agility of a saberist, scoring some very nice touches with some pretty parries, and surprisingly to all who watched, a flèche. Nikki reminded everyone how important the balance between passive and aggressive fencing is as she beat every one of the other team’s fencers, despite GW bringing their A squad. Kirsten had a good day as well, remembering that lunging is a good way to get touches. She won 3rd place in individuals. Women’s epee won second place at SIFA.


The saber tournament squad was filled to the brim with new fencers, eager for their debut tournament. The men hit the ground running with our brand new fencers Daniel Bachman and Ephraim Kozodoy being led by tournament first-timer Liam Hyde. The faults of inexperience quickly gave way to an impressive display of adaptability as Liam learned to counter attack in the middle of a bout to keep his opponents on their toes. Daniel’s impressive bursts of speeds defeated many opponents while Ephraim developed an effective strategy of alternating between short attacks and pulling opponents short. Of the five schools present, the squad finished second place overall. In the men’s individual event Liam took fourth place after three grueling DE bouts in which he and Ephraim established a rivalry that is sure to push both of them to greater heights.

On Sunday, Hannah Cooper led our starry-eyed freshmen Julianne Cook and Riley Aiken into the fray. Cecilia Hoover had come as an alternate in case of injury and joined a composite team with JMU in order to give the girls an extra school to fence. Hannah showed her experience and relentlessly dominated her opponents at the mid-range. Riley took to the strip every time with a plan and was able to improve so much that opponents who beat her at the beginning of the day could not stop her by its end. She also broke her first saber which was a sad moment but one to remember. Julianne fought through exhaustion and opponents much larger than her to score numerous points on clean parries and beat attacks on over-confident opponents. Cecilia did her level best on the composite team and thanks to a combination of adaptability and experience held her own against every opponent. In the end, she powered through a series of exhausting bouts in the individual DE’s and ended up winning first in women’s saber individuals.


En Garde, Prêt, Allez! (Start of Year Updates)

William and Mary Fencing is back and looking forward to a great 17-18 season!

This past week, we began full team practice with our new fencers. You can check out team photos from these and other events on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Our annual Halloween Open USFA event will take place the weekend of October 28th and 29th, and is now posted on AskFred! Click here to preregister for the tournament.

Stay tuned for more updates about our competition schedule for the year, which will be posted soon.