(New Haven, CT) - The Pioneers beat the Yale Bulldogs 14-13 at Yale's Paine-Whitney Gym on Saturday t. After close 15-12 losses the past three seasons, Sacred Heart had targeted this win as one of the goals for the season.
The Pioneers got off to a strong start with two wins each from the foil and epee squads and a win from Marty Williams in Saber. Yale bounced back in the second round by sweeping saber and winning two in epee. Wins by Jim Roberts (North Haven, CT) and Victor Nieto (The Woodlands, TX) in foil and Jeremiah German (Pittsburgh, PA) in epee gave the Pioneers three wins, but had them down 10-8 going into the final rotation.
Epee stepped up in a big way to sweep their three bouts by decisive 5-0, 5-3, and 5-3 margins. This meant that foil and saber had to split the final six bouts for the Pioneers to win the match. Marty Williams (Plainfield, NJ) delivered a 5-2 win of Yale's Will Zhou, which meant that foil had to take two of three from Yale's foil. Despite being down 4-1 to Yale's Colin Mills, Stuart Holmes (Centereach, NY) settled in to reel off four straight touches for an exciting 5-4 win. It appeared that team captain Roberts would be able to get that critical fourteenth win when he took a 4-3 lead against Yale's Dario Martinez, but fell in a very close 5-4 bout. This left it up to Nieto to bring home the win against Yale's Shiv Kochru. In a rocking fencing gym, Nieto got out to a 2-1 lead but a riposte and a strong attack by Kochru had him down 3-2. Nieto came back to tie the score at 3-3 and 4-4 to set up a 4-4 winner take all situation. After a half minute of exciting fencing, Nieto was able to parry Kochru's attack and land a one light riposte to secure the win for Sacred Heart.
Nieto led the way for Sacred Heart on the day with three wins. He was joined by Holmes in foil, Williams in saber, and Justin Dion (North Attleboro, MA), Jeremiah German (Pittsburgh, PA), and Nate Quigley Florence, MA) in epee with two wins each.
"Nieto was just amazing today," said head coach Dr. Thomas Vrabel. "He has steadily improved since getting into the starting lineup at MIT and gets stronger with each match. Victor has great intensity and he is not rattled by the reputation of the opposition or by a referee's call. I played a hunch to schedule Victor for the last bout and it worked out for us today. "
"I was very pleased with the performance of the both the foil and epee squads today," continued Dr. Vrabel. "Epee's technique and balance is improving weekly and their records show it. The real key to this win was how we did in the 4-4 bouts. We were 6-3 at Yale as opposed to 10-26 in Philadelphia. We had several practices this week devoted to winning 4-4 bouts and they really paid off".
The Pioneers are back in action next Sunday at Wellesley College, where they defend their Northeast Fencing Conference Championship from last season.