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Women’s Fencing Welcomes Tufts to Open 2013-14 Season

The Crimson will open up its 38th season at home (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard women's fencing team will open its 39th season Thursday, Dec. 5 when the Crimson welcomes the Tufts Jumbos to the Malkin Athletic Center for a 6 p.m. match.

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Looking Back
Last season, Harvard went 12-8 overall and 4-2 in conference action to take third in the Ivy League with three fencers garnering All-Ivy honors. At the 2013 NCAA Championships, Harvard claimed sixth and a trio of Crimson received All-America accolades.

Guess Who's Back
Harvard returns eight letterwinners in 2013-14 including sophomore Aliya Itzkowitz who achieved All-America and second team All-Ivy status in the saber a year ago. Alexandra Kiefer, the NCAA individual foil champion in 2011, earned her third All-America honor of her career last season and returns to Cambridge for her final year in Crimson. Last season's epee fencers junior Emma Vaggo and sophomore Nina van Loon, who received first team All-Ivy and All-America accolades, respectively, are back. Also returning are saber fencers senior Elena Helgiu and junior Kara Lee, Kiefer's co-captain, along with sophomore epeeist Sarah Tillman.

Who's New
A quartet of the Class of 2017 has been added to the Harvard women's fencing roster this season. Adrienne Jarocki and Erica Zhao will compete in the sabre while Hali Nelson and Liana Yamin are foil fencers. Sophomore transfer Isabel DiTella adds distance to the Crimson's epeeist.

Related Link: Four Newcomers Set to Join Women's Fencing in 2013-14

Trust in Brand
Peter Brand enters his 15th season at the helm of the Crimson. Under his guidance, Harvard captured its first NCAA team championship in 2006, won a combined four Intercollegiate Fencing Association three-weapon titles, two IFA six-weapon championships and a combined seven Ivy League titles – three by the women and four by the men. He also has coached 37 All-Americans in his time behind Harvard's bench. Brand sports a 184-58 overall record on the women's side and a 49-31 mark against Ivy League foes.

New Sideline Addition
A new face has been added to the Harvard fencing staff as Jed Dupree joins the program as an assistant coach. He came to Cambridge after working as the head foil coach at Empire United Fencing. Dupree's competitor résumé boasts prestige including an Olympian at the 2004 Athens Games, seven-time member of the U.S. National Team and two-time men's foil national champion in 2001 and 2005, respectively.

Related Link: Dupree Joins Harvard Fencing Staff as Assistant Coach

Captain Crimson
For the third consecutive season a senior and junior will serve as co-captains of the women's fencing team as Alexandra Kiefer and Kara Lee take on the leadership responsibilities. The duo is the 18th set of Crimson captains to guide the women's squad since Bernadette Drankoski '80 and Genevieve Laforet '80 served as the program's first co-captains in 1979-80.

At the MAC
The Crimson has dueled in 275 matches under the roof of the Malkin Athletic Center to boast a 199-76 (.724) all-time mark at home. Harvard has hosted 43 opponents at the MAC and holds an unbeaten mark against 22 rivals and a winning record against 29 visiting foes.

Get to the Know Tufts
The Jumbos will open their 2013-14 season in Cambridge. Tufts returns 12 fencers that posted a 4-3 record and took fifth in a field of 16 teams at the New England Championship meet a year ago, the program's best finish in the last three seasons. The team's performance was highlighted by the sabre squad who took home the silver medal and epeeist Katharine Lynch who claimed fourth out of 45 competitors. Lynch, a junior, will lead the Jumbos on the strip as epee captain. Seniors Mailin Li and Julia Hisey will join Lynch with captain responsibilities, leading the foil and sabre fencers, respectively.

All-Time Versus the Jumbos
Since the series' inception in 1981, Harvard has battled Tufts in Cambridge to a perfect 20-0 all-time record. Last season, the Crimson was paced by foil fencers Katherine Chou '13 and Alexandra Kiefer, who won all three of their bouts, in a resounding 26-1 victory.

Related Link: Women's Fencing Continues Dominance Over Tufts in 26-1 Rout

What's to Come
Harvard returns to action Sunday, Dec. 8, when it travels to Fairfield, Conn., for the Tradition Tournament.