Courtney Hurley vs. Margarita Guzzi Vincenti – July NAC Semi-finals
Olympian Courtney Hurley and Margarita Guzzi Vincenti fought for a spot in the finals at the July North American Cup in Division 1 Women’s epee. The match was very close and hard fought right down to the finish.
Both fencers started the bout slowly by gauging each other’s distance and timing. Hurley was happy to apply pressure and push Vincenti to the end of Vincenti’s side of the strip. It appeared that passivity would be called, but after 49 seconds Hurley took a risk and advanced into range and extended her arm to attack Vincenti’s chest. Vincenti seemed to read Hurley’s advance as a feint, not expecting Hurley’s direct attack. Vincenti realized her mistake almost immediately and she tried to parry Hurley’s blade, but the distance had already been closed resulting in the first touch in Hurley’s favour. Again both fencers took the action to Vincenti’s end, where Hurley attempted a flick to Vincenti’s wrist. The flick missed and Vincenti capitalized with a fleche to tie the match. Vincenti was comfortable fencing in her own end, willingly relinquishing footwork control to Hurley. Hurley moved in and out of distance with very small steps, but she took one step that was too big and the result was a scoring lunge from Vincenti. Hurley did not expect the attack at all.
Hurley was eager to make up for sleeping on the last hit by pushing Vincenti back and attacking to the foot, but fortunately for Vincenti the foot-shot missed allowing Vincenti to score with another fleche to take a two touch lead. Hurley’s body language showed frustration. Again Hurley pressured Vincenti back, but this time she was looking to draw out an attack from Vincenti and land the counter-attack after a single retreat. Hurley bounced in and out of distance effectively and Vincenti was provoked into an attack. Vincenti slightly extended her arm showing intent of a direct attack, but she quickly parried Hurley’s counter-attack and scored with a riposte before Hurley had time to react. Vincenti had a three touch lead, and although Hurley was obviously frustrated the match was far from over. Hurley advanced forward with a bit more aggression, looking to draw out another attack from her opponent. Feeling the pressure, Vincenti threatened with a small extension that Hurley quickly parried which was followed up with a missed riposte but a successful remise. Vincenti was not quick enough to parry Hurley’s remise resulting in a single touch for Hurley. Only 10 seconds later Hurley unleashed a long octave beat lunge that was so fast Vincenti reacted with the parry after she had already been hit.
No touches were scored in the remaining 19 seconds of the first period. Vincenti would hold a lead going into the one minute break with a score of 4-3. Vincenti had scored all of her four touches attacking into Hurley’s forward movement. Hurley was successful when making an action on the blade before committing to her attack, but she needed to respect Vincenti’s deceptively long distance. Hurley missed on both of her counter-attack attempts.
The second period started off much like the first period with Hurley pressing forward into Vincenti’s zone. Vincenti found a timing she liked and exploded forward with a beat lunge, but Hurley stood her ground and scored on a quarte parry-riposte to level the score at four hits each. Hurley looked to utilize the same tactic to score another point, by jumping in and out of distance trying to provoke Vincenti’s attack. Hurley realized Vincenti wasn’t going to bite on the bait, so she used her defensive set-up to cloak the start of her advancing beat lunge. Hurley bounced forward, but instead of backing out of distance she continued forward taking Vincenti’s blade. Vincenti counter-attacked with a duck which caused Hurley to search for Vincenti’s blade instead of attacking to the target. Hurley made no secret of her frustration.
Hurley had confidence in playing the distance game, so again she pushed Vincenti back trying to provoke an attack from too far away. Hurley was successful in this tactic and scored a stop-hit to Vincenti’s wrist when Vincenti advanced forward. Tied at five hits each, Hurley tried to take the lead with a beat attack, but again Vincenti counter-attacked at the right timing scoring a single touch. Hurley could be heard complaining to her coach about not being able to hit on that action. It appeared as if Hurley wasn’t sure of how to proceed, and the next four actions in a row her response was to just counter-attack. This follows the old epee adage of, “When in doubt, stick it out!” The result was of those four actions was one double and three singles which gave Vincenti a sizable lead at 10 – 7. The final scoring action of the second period went in Hurley’s favour which reminded her opponent that the match wasn’t over. The action was a simple parry-riposte, where Hurley scored on the remise instead of the initial riposte.
With a strong lead heading into the third and final period, Vincenti approached the en garde line with a certain confidence about her. Vincenti took a risk early into the third period with a lunge from too far away and she paid the price for falling short, Hurley quickly scored on the counter-attack. Eager to get the point back and increase her lead, Vincenti initiated another long lunge which was met with Hurley’s blade. Before Vincenti could attempt a renewal of her attack, Hurley scored on the riposte. Vincenti was confident in her attacks because she scored four in a row at the end of the second period. Vincenti, again, attempted another attack from too far away, this time a fleche that Hurley easily defended and then scored to swing the lead in Hurley’s favour. Hurley, knowing Vincenti’s attack was inevitable, was perfectly content to wait for her opponent to attack. Eventually, Vincenti found her timing to attempt another fleche but this time she aimed for Hurley’s mid-line. The mid-line target was a bad choice as Hurley would be happy to score a double touch on a counter-attack, so the chances were very high that Hurley’s reaction would be a counter-attack. When you attack to the mid or low-line you leave your shoulder and arm exposed which is easy pickings for the counter-attack. The result of this attack was a double touch.
Knowing full well that her opponent would be attacking, Hurley maintained a distance that was suitable for her to score on counter-attacks. At 1:07 left in the match, Vincenti rushed forward with an advance-lunge, but Hurley expertly countered to raise the score to 13 – 11. Only six seconds later, Vincenti rushed forward but was caught when she pulled her arm back trying to parry Hurley’s counter attack. 14 – 11. Immediately off the line Vincenti tried a pumping two-time attack which Hurley had no problems scoring on a counter-attack to score the final hit of the match and secure a spot in the gold medal match.
Ultimately this match came down to composure. The match was tight until the end when Vincenti rushed Hurley, only to give up three hits in a total of eight seconds.
Thanks to Al Navarro for requesting an analysis of this match. I hope it is what you were looking for!