The Bulldogs may be green, but they are ready to thrust and parry into this year’s winter season

The Yale women’s fencing team will begin its 2003-2004 season Nov. 23 at the Penn State Open.

As a warm-up, the Elis will hold an alumni scrimmage this weekend. Because the team is relatively young and inexperienced, head coach Henry Harutunian said he wants his fencers to get as much competition experience as possible.

“We have very strong emotion and enthusiasm, but we don’t have many people with experience,” Harutunian said.

The Elis will again be short their best fencer, Sada Jacobson ’05, who left the team before last season to begin training for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. Jacobson claimed the world No. 1 ranking in June at the New York City Grand Prix. While she will not be able to contribute to the Elis’ point totals this year, she has still helped the Bulldogs.

Jacobson visited her team earlier this year and assisted in practice for a week. Captain Erica Korb ’05, an epee fencer, said practicing with Jacobson was a motivational boost in addition to the practical knowledge the champion had to offer.

“Sada is very helpful,” saber fencer Carly Guss ’06 said. “She knows the right drills to fix a problem, and it is always good to practice against a left-hander, especially the best in the world.”

Guss, like many of the Bulldogs, is relatively new to fencing, having picked up the sport last year. This season’s Eli squad is lacking in experience but team members said they believe it is well-stocked in effort and dedication.

“The team is working hard and making progress,” Korb said. “We could be a surprise for some of the better teams.”

Despite the Eli squad’s hard work, the lack of experience remains a concern to Harutunian and Korb. While some fencers have been involved in the sport for several years, others are quite new to the sport, having only a few months of parrying under their belts.

The Bulldogs began practicing in early September and had their first coached practice Oct. 15. The rapid progress made by the younger fencers is encouraging to both coach and captain, but the true test will come when the Elis square off against someone not garbed in the familiar blue and white.

The Penn State meet will serve as an opportunity for the team to gain experience. The round-robin format will expose the Elis to new fencers and styles. Guss said the team has come a long way in its three months of practice but is eager to compete against an unfamiliar adversary.

Cornell will be the squad’s first Ivy League opponent on Dec. 6. The Elis look to continue their improving trend and eventually develop a veteran team to take on last year’s Ivy League champion Columbia.