NEW YORK -- Both the men's and women's teams fell to Sacred Heart of Connecticut in the opening round on Thursday, each by 15-12 scores. However, the Lions fought back, sweeping both Vassar and host NYU.

With 21 men and 19 women on the Columbia fencing teams and just nine to 12 seeing time in the average meet, there are going to be a number of idle Lions at every event.

Head coach Michael Aufrichtig has done all he can to remedy that by substituting freely. In Thursday's Historical Meet Plus at NYU, Aufrichtig packed the lineups with reserves and it gave Columbia two wins.

Although Sacred Heart has racked up some wins, twice beating Yale this season, Aufrichtig was hardly ready to concede two victories to the Pioneers.

"I told the team that Sacred Heart would come out fighting," he said. Nevertheless, he noted, the Lions would have won both matches if all three weapon squads had fenced up to their potential.

In the women's meet, it was sabre that faltered, losing six of nine bouts against the Pioneers, yet going 17-1 the rest of the meet. Men's sabre led the way in its part of the Sacred Heart match, going a perfect 9-0 behind Will Spear, Mel Rodriguez, and Rienzi Gokea. Men's foil and epee were a combined 3-15.

"Everyone supported their teammates," Aufrichtig said, "even the ones who weren't fencing. Many of them came up to me and volunteered to go in."

Aufrichtig did take Sarah Gruman up on her offer. After competing in sabre, where she won five of seven, she filled in at epee when Natalie Gegan was injured and posted an important win.

"This was a learning experience," Aufrichtig said. "A number of our fencers now know what it takes to win in varsity matches."

Sabre paced the men's team, winning 21 of 27, as Spear, Rodriguez and Gokea each went 5-1. Justin Hahn and Andrei Tapai each were 6-3 in epee, and Angad Singh was 5-4. Bo Charles and Kyle Doyle led foil with 3-3 marks. Both Doyle and Sekou Harris had the best events of their college careers.

Sabre led the women's effort, going 20-7 as Sara Yee (7-2), Laura Hunter-Thomas (5-0) and Sarah Gruman (5-2) excelled. Sophomore Diana Tsinis was 8-1 in epee, while senior co-captain D'Meca Homer and sophomore Dianna Hohensee led foil with 7-2 marks.