Lancaster’s women fencers have the edge on York

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Photo by Jay Theis

Lancaster 135-122 York

Lancaster’s women’s fencing team emerged victorious from an extremely close encounter to avenge their defeat by York at Roses 2011 and bring Lancaster the four points which moved them to within touching distance of reclaiming the Carter-James Trophy.

The teams competed in three contests with different weapons, the sabre, the foil and the epee.

In the sabre rounds, York’s team of Sophie Mason, Lousie Highton and Lizzie Smith narrowly edged the opening encounters, leading 15-14 by the end of the third bout despite early wins for Lancaster’s Christine Freese and Kate Chandler.

The away side then threatened to pull out a more clear lead, but were pegged back by Freese who despite losing her next bout scored an impressive eight hits to narrow the gap to three points. Kat Ormondroyd narrowly lost out by a single point, but further closed the gap to a single point in York’s favour.

It looked like York would hold out to win the sabre, but another impressive performance from Freese, who displayed great footwork and took her opportunities well, meant Lancaster stole it 45-43.

Moving onto the foil, York again took the early advantage, going 10-6 up after the first two bouts. That was before Wylma Woo put in a dominant performance in her first bout of the morning, scoring nine hits to give Lancaster a 15-12 lead.

The middle bouts of the foil contest were arguably what sealed victory for the Red Rose. Following Woo’s impressive performance, captain Theresa Rosado found a winning hit with just two seconds of the three-minute time limit to spare, beating Louise Highton and giving Lancaster a 20-18 lead.

Freese, Lancaster’s standout performer on the day, further stretched the advantage, winning her next bout 5-1 to take the score to 25-19. York’s team were perhaps starting to tire at this stage, with Lancaster appearing to take advantage of the relative freshness of Woo and Rosado, who had not competed in the sabre.

York captain Sophie Mason did extremely well to dispatch the otherwise-impressive Woo 11-3, which swung the contest back in York’s favour briefly. Rosado continued this pendulum-like scoring by fending off Lizzie Smith 5-4, before Woo took the penultimate bout to put Lancaster in a more dominant position, 40-33.

It was left to Freese to round off the foil contest, and she obliged with a 5-3 triumph to take the overall score to 45-36.

Taking the first two weapons gave Lancaster an obvious advantage, but York were resurgent at the beginning of the epee contest. Mason, Highton and Smith beat Bethan Jones, Woo and Nathalie Phelan in successive bouts to go 15-11 up.

As Sophie Mason fended off Woo in an extremely tense bout, Jones went on to put Lancaster back in the lead, at 25-23.

Once more the contest swung, this time Highton beating Phelan impressively, 7-3, putting York back on top.

Despite having difficulties with her equipment and having to borrow a mask from a teammate, Woo then won her bout with Mason, putting Lancaster 35-34 ahead and within a couple of points of securing the points for the home side.

Taking the score to 40-38, Nathalie Phelan’s win over Sophie Mason brought the points needed to ensure Lancaster’s victory, given the earlier wins in the sabre and the foil. Jones took this momentum and saw off Highton, with Lancaster winning the epee 45-43.

The aggregate score, therefore, saw Lancaster win by a total of 135-122 in what was a fascinating match-up, with the advantage flitting between the two sides numerous times.

Speaking to SCAN afterwards, Lancaster captain Rosado was pleased with her team’s performance, saying “I couldn’t ask for a better team.”

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