Returning NCAA Regional Qualifiers Lead Women's Fencing into Start of 2018-19 Season

Senior co-captain Annie Ayala was an NCAA Regional qualifier in epee last year

MEDFORD – The Tufts University women's fencing team opens its 2018-19 season with a tri-meet at Harvard University along with Wellesley College on Tuesday.

Head coach David Sach's team is led by the return of four fencers who competed at the NCAA Regionals last season. Senior co-captain Zoe Howard and sophomore Georgia Kollias fenced in the foil weapon at Regionals for Tufts last year. Sophomore Elliot Pavlovich qualified for NCAA Regionals in the saber division, while senior co-captain Annie Ayala was Tufts' NCAA Regional representative in epee. With those four, Tufts has experience in each weapon to start the new year.

With Howard and Kollias, foil is the weapon with the most depth returning for the Jumbos. In her second NCAA Regional performance last winter, Howard advanced to the third round in foil. She finished 21st out of 46 in the foil division after starting play as the 37th seed in the event. Ranked 12th for the Northeast Fencing Conference (NFC) in foil, Howard had a 26-10 record for the regular-season and was +67 in touches. Kollias, who won two matches at the Regional, also won more than she lost in NFC foil action (19-15) and she was on the plus side in touches (+9). Sophomore Dana Lee and freshman Allison Cheng will contend for the third starting spot in foil.

The Jumbos lost their best overall performer in Bridget Marturano, who was a four-time NCAA Regional qualifier in the saber weapon. Regional performer Nayab Ajaz also graduated from the saber team. Pavlovich is the lone returning starter in saber, while sophomore Lillie Ahearn has some experience. Sophomore Subin Jeong and freshman Dorothy Waskow round out the saber roster.

Tufts will look to be stronger in the epee events this season. Ayala leads the group, while junior Brie Gates also returns. Freshmen Hannah Fruitman and Caroline Hayes will be the other Jumbo competitors in epee.

The Jumbos will host an NFC multi-meet this year at Carzo Cage on February 9. The NCAA Regionals are scheduled for March 10 at Vassar College.