The United States’ women’s foil squad overcame a 7 point deficit and then took the lead late in the match against 2nd ranked Poland for a thrilling 31-30 victory.  The US team of Emily Cross, Erinn Smart, and Hanna Thompson will advance to face 3rd ranked Hungary in the semifinals later today.

The Polish team of Magdelena Mroczkiewica, Malgorzata Wojtkowiak, and Sylwia Gruchala came into the day ranked 2nd in the world and aiming to take the team title from champion Italy.

{sidebar id=1}The US team started off a bit slow with a 2 point deficit to Poland’s Wojtkowiak but then Hanna Thompson would win the second bout 6-3 to put the US up by 1 point.  The US team could not hold onto the lead as Poland slowly pulled away.

Once Poland had a 2 point lead, they were content to play the waiting game, forcing the US fencers to take more risks.  The strategy works against Erinn Smart as she tried to push Mroczkiewica in their bout, but got caught on a series of counter attacks and ripostes.  Emily Cross fared better against Gruchala, going on a 4-0 run but the Polish anchor would respond with a 5-0 run of her own.

Entering the 7th of 9 bouts Hanna Thompson stepped up to the strip with the US team down by 7 points.  She would go on a 7-0 run against Mroczkiewicz to tie the match.  At this point, the Polish team seemed nervous.  US fencing coach Mike Pederson agreed: "(Once we were able to get it close, it) affected us and Poland both.  For us it energized us and got us to work hard on every touch.  For Poland, they tend to start a little bit slow on the team matches, so we’ve noticed that if you can make it tight…we’ve noticed they tend to crack a little bit."

Emily Cross would continue by leading her bout 3-2 and handing Erinn Smart the US team’s first lead since the second period.  "I was having a rough match up to that point.  It felt really great to get the one touch lead and hand that over to Erinn," said Cross.

Erinn Smart stepped up and traded touches with Polish team anchor Sylwia Gruchala.  Gruchala increased the tempo and traded touches with Smart, but then knotted the score up at 30.  On the next touch, Smart would score on a riposte with only 5 seconds left. 

"All I thought was that I want to go strong.  I want to go together," said Smart.  "Each time she pushed me I lost the touch.  I knew I was going to go straight and strong."  Smart kept the pressure on for the next 5 seconds and the US team celebrated as they held onto the 31-30 win.

Emily Cross reflected on what this meant: "We’ve had so many close matches against so many of the top dogs and this is the first time we’ve pulled it out.  It feels good to do that at the right time."

The United States will face Hungary in the semifinal match.  Hungary defeated Germany 33-31.  The other semifinal match will feature Russia and Italy.  Russia easily defeated Egypt 45-23 and the Italians held China at bay, 37-24.  The Italian team features Gold medalist Velentian Vezzali and Bronze medalist Margherita Granbassi.