By Kendra Hansey | Aug. 08, 2019, 11:56 p.m. (ET)
Eleanor Grace Harvey from Canada, left, greets Nicole Ross after the fencing match on Aug. 8, 2019, at the Pan American Games Lima 2019.

 

LIMA, Peru – With the lights of the Lima Convention Center dimmed low, the U.S. women’s foil team delivered a spotlight performance to win the gold medal, closing out the squad’s season on the highest of notes.

Comprised of Lee Kiefer, Jackie Dubrovich and Nicole Ross, the U.S. faced off against Canada with whom the U.S. has had several close matches with this season. Thursday’s match was no different.

“To have multiple wins against (Canada) with such close scores this season makes us really proud and proud of our strategy and everything we’re doing together,” Ross said.

Thursday’s strategy was to stay calm, keep level thoughts, be confident and know that one of them will be able to make the breakaway and the rest of the team will follow.

For the first five of the nine rounds, the marginal lead was only one touch and the leader alternated between the countries. In the sixth round, Team USA took the lead by four and had it shortened to two in the seventh. 

“We’re comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Ross said of when scores are close.

For the team, they know that they don’t need to score several touches all at once, but rather, get one here and one there, keep that score close and be ready to follow through when one of their team members gets a breakaway.

Ross deftly maneuvered in the eighth round, surging and lunging for nine points – the most scored in a round of the match for either team – to increase the lead for the U.S. by four. 

As the final fencer for Team USA, Kiefer craftily battled to increase the final lead to six, making the final match score 45-39.

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And with that final win for Team USA, the squad’s season came to a close.

“One of the highlights of being here is getting to add to the medal count, getting to stand on the podium with my teammates for a third time in this championship season and just representing on our country,” Ross said of competing under the Team USA moniker. “I’m speaking for everyone – it’s one of our proudest moments. We live for that.” 

Earlier in the day, the U.S. men’s epee team of Curtis McDowald, Jake Hoyle and James Kaull finished in fourth place after succumbing to Venezuela by two touches.

With Venezuela being the biggest competitor in the zone for the U.S. men, it was especially important to the team to finish strong.

Down by nine points after the seventh round, McDowald sprang into action landing an astonishing 19 touches in the eighth round to narrow the deficit to four. Hoyle followed up and scored seven touches for the U.S., but it proved to be just shy of mounting a full-blown comeback for the bronze.

“When you come out here, you win or you lose – you have to accept that as a reality every time you get on the strip,” McDowald said. “If I let my emotions be dictated by whether I win or lose, that's no stability for me. I'm moving on. I'm feeling just the same as I walked in here today.”