Video Break Down: Maya Lawrence v. Ashley Severson

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Breaking Down the Film: 2012 NAC Division I Women’s Epee Gold Medal Bout—Maya Lawrence v. Ashley Severson (Video Break Down)

(This post originally appeared on Damien Lehfeldt over at  He’ll be bringing some of his pieces over to Fencing.Net as a guest writer.)

The 2012 Milwaukee North American Cup Division I Women’s Epee final gave us a wonderful 15-14 showdown that placed Olympic Team Bronze Medalist Maya Lawrence as the victor over Ashley Severson. Severson deserves a lot of credit for her resiliency throughout the day, after losing a close bout in repechage 15-14 to Maria Alejandra Trumble, before fighting her way back into the 8 with victories over powerhouses Francesca Bassa and Amanda Sirico. To fight into the gold medal match, Severson also defeated former NCAA champion Katarzyna Trzopek by one touch en route to her showdown with Lawrence.

Lawrence had little to no trouble getting to the final despite coming out of pools 34th. Up until the final, her only close bout was with Amanda Sirico, who she edged out 15-14.

So, with a 15-14 final bout, spectators got a real treat watching these two young women change their tactics at multiple points during the bout, with some clean touches throughout. My breakdown of Lawrence’s victory below:

Watch the video, then read on for commentary:


Period 1: Like the Men’s gold medal match between Jason Pryor and Soren Thompson (15-12, Pryor), both fencers begin this bout with extreme patience. Whereas Lawrence isn’t much of a “bouncer,” Severson changes her footwork multiple times, switching from bouncing style to traditional feet on the ground. Severson begins bout with 2-0 lead on opportunely timed blade takes, baiting Lawrence’s attacks. Lawrence, for a French grip user has exceptional strong blade work and responds to Severson with two punishing 8 advance lunge touches. Lawrence ends the 1st period with a beautifully timed disengage fleche to the inside of Severson’s guard to take a 5-3 lead.

Period 2: Severson begins the period changing her song and dance by moving more aggressively in and out of the distance with her bouncing. Is met with a quick counter attack from Lawrence into her prep to go up 6-3. Lawrence seems to have Severson’s timing down at the start of this period, picking off Severson on multiple touches in a row in Severson’s advance. Takes 8-3 lead. At this moment, the bout begins to change hands. Lawrence makes a quick attack off the line to surprise Severson but is met with a quick Parry riposte to make it 8-4. Lawrence, with a four touch lead searches for double touches to maintain the four touch lead and lands two in a row to make it 10-6. Severson, aware of her advantages in infighting as a pistol grip user takes the fight inside for the next two touches, rallies the score to 10-8. Severson lands the touch of the bout with a remarkable flick over the top of Lawrence’s wrist that even leaves Lawrence scratching her head. 9-10. Lawrence begins pushing Severson, who takes a (very) deep parry 4. Lo and behold, the score is now 10-10. Lawrence, after four unanswered points changes her tactics once again to aim for the short targets. Lawrence aims for the short targets, pulling off a great lunge attack to the top of Severson’s arm to make the score 11-10. Lawrence pushes for one final touch at the end of the period but falls short into Severson’s counter attack. 11-11.

Period 3: Severson once again begins the period far more mobile, bouncing. Double touch on Lawrence’s 8 advance lunge to 12-12. Lawrence gets her first touch on infighting to take the lead, 13-12. Lawrence begins to push, is met with a counter attack into her preparation to go 13-13. Naturally. The collective crowd pees their pants. Lawrence comes out with a fleche, counter attacked and double touch. Naturally. The collective crowd pees their pants for the second time in 10 seconds. 14-14. For the sake of freaking out the collective crowd, the two get a double touch at 14-14. No action. Obligatory mention of peeing pants. Finally, Lawrence, pushes Severson, finishes the bout with an explosive fleche with double disengage on the top of Severson’s arm. 15-14 Lawrence. Great bout.

Overall: This bout could have gone either way, and I was very impressed with the ability of both Lawrence and Severson to change their tactics at multiple points during the bout. Surprisingly, not once did either go for the low line for a toe touch, a forte of Lawrence’s. This was a five-star bout that should be played for all young fencers, as we got almost got the whole spectrum of epee tactics:

  • Short target attacks
  • Double disengages
  • Patience/clock management
  • Clean infighting from both sides
  • Strong bladework from both sides
  • Changes in footwork/tempo

Severson is young with a huge upside, and despite this close loss will be putting on many great shows for years to come. Excellent fencing!!!

Damien is a competitive fencer and coach at DC Fencers Club in Silver Spring, Maryland. Damien was the coach of a London 2012 Olympic Athlete in Modern Pentathlon (Suzanne Stettinius). He is an A-rated epeeist and foilist.

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