Season Recap: Women’s Fencing Culminates Season with Fifth-Place Finish at NCAAs; Vloka Crowned National Champion

Season Recap: Women’s Fencing Culminates Season with Fifth-Place Finish at NCAAs; Vloka Crowned National Champion

Pictured: Caroline Vloka
Photo courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications.

The Harvard women’s fencing team claimed a fifth-place finish at the 2010 NCAA Fencing Championships after ending the season with a 15-8 record and a No. 9 national ranking. Harvard produced its second national champion in program history, both coming under the tutelage of head coach Peter Brand. Four fencers earned All-America honors while three were tabbed to the All-Ivy League first team.

The Regular Season:
Harvard posted a 15-8 record on the year and finished the Ivy League Championships with a 3-3 mark, good for fourth in the conference. In the first event of the 2009-10 campaign, Harvard earned two medals at the Garret Penn State Open. Vloka won the silver medal in the sabre competition and Mills earned the bronze in the epee.

The Crimson began the season on a seven-match win streak. Harvard was 6-0 after day one of the regular season, having defeated defending national champion Penn State and perennial powerhouses North Carolina, NYU and Princeton. The Crimson also laid claim to Beantown bragging rights for the third straight year, winning all three matches at the Beanpot to take the title. MacLeod, Mills and Vloka all earned spots on the All-Ivy League first team, while Mills was also tabbed to the Academic All-Ivy League team.

At the NCAA Northeast Regionals, Mills and Vloka each placed second in their respective competitions. MacLeod earned a fourth-place finish while Sun posted a sixth-place finish in her first season. Arielle Pensler placed eighth and Goldfeder finished in tenth in the foil. Vloka went 19-4 at the event while Mills posted a 20-3 record in the epee. MacLeod won 17 bouts and Sun put up 15 wins at the meet. In the foil, Pensler scored 12 victories while Goldfeder claimed 13 at the competition.

The NCAA Championships:
Harvard University hosted the 2010 NCAA Fencing Championships March 25-28 at the Gordon Track. As 144 competitors representing 27 squads converged on Cambridge for the four-day event, over 700 spectators and 19 members of the media watched as Penn State claimed its second consecutive national team title. The Crimson garnered a fifth-place finish, four All-Americans and two finalists.

Sophomore co-captain Caroline Vloka captured the women’s sabre national title, earning her second straight All-America first-team honors. She earned 19 wins en route to her first-place finish.  Vloka, who entered the final day in fifth, boasted a +42 indicator rating, collecting 102 touches in the preliminary rounds to receive the third seed in the semifinal round.

A product of Upper Saddle River, N.J., Vloka fenced Duke’s Rebecca Ward in the championship bout, a rematch of last year’s final. Vloka got the better of her opponent this time around, as she scored a 15-13 victory, earning the national crown.  Vloka became Harvard’s first female national champion since Emily Cross ’08-09 won the foil title in 2005.

Classmate and co-captain Noam Mills claimed a second-place finish in the women’s epee for the second consecutive year. Mills clinched All-America first-team honors for the second year in a row after claiming first place in the preliminaries. The sophomore posted 21 victories in the preliminaries, while scoring an indicator rating of +54.  Mills, the No. 1 seed in the semifinals, fenced Penn State’s Anastasia Ferdmann, the fourth seed.  The Kfar Saba, Israel native, earned a sudden victory against Ferdmann, winning 8-7, allowing her to grab a spot in the championship bout. In the finals, Mills dropped her match to Margherita Guzzi Vincenti of Penn State by a score of 15-10.

Sophomore Shelby MacLeod claimed 11th place in the foil while senior Artemisha Goldfeder placed 12th. Both fencers earned All-America honorable mention status. For Goldfeder, it marked the second time in her career that she received All-America honorable mention, after placing 10th in the foil competition in her freshman campaign. MacLeod garnered All-America honorable mention status for the first time in her career. Freshman Elena Helgiu finished 21st in the sabre, as she won six bouts at the event, and classmate Felicia Sun placed 21st in the epee, picking up five victories.

Looking Ahead:
Harvard will return 11 fencers for next season including five who competed at the 2010 NCAA Fencing Championships. The Crimson will graduate three seniors at the end of the year; foil fencers Artemisha Goldfeder, Arielle Pensler and Anna Podolsky. Yunsoo Kim is the only fencer rising to senior status, as she was the lone junior on this year’s squad. Hayley Levitt, Sarah Rosenberg-Wahl, MacLeod, Mills and Vloka will all look to carry the success from this season into their junior years. Katherine Chou, Nadia Eldeib, Alexa Fishman, Helgiu and Sun will all look to build on their rookie campaigns.