(New York, NY) - The ninth-ranked Pioneers travelled to Columbia yesterday to take on the NYU Violets and the Columbia Lions, beating the Violets 17-10 and falling to the Lions 19-8.
The Pioneers got off to a strong start in the first match against NYU. The effort was led by a sweep of saber from the trio of Marty Williams, Tommy Gerrity, and Sean Vilar. Epee, led by Justin Dion's three wins, went 5-4 while the foil squad lost to the Violets 3-6. In the second match, Sacred Heart went against a vastly improved Columbia squad under first year head coach Michael Aufrichtig, which dominated the first round. SHU was led in this match by a 2-1 performance from Williams in saber.
"For whatever reason we came out a little flat today," said head coach Dr. Tom Vrabel. "Our preparation routine was solid and we controlled the action with NYU, but I don't think that the guys were ready for a Columbia team under Coach Aufrichtig. The Lions have embraced their coach's approach to the game with fierce competitiveness and strong attention to detail. Their determination caught many of our fencers by surprise. We just could not bounce back from their initial onslaught in the first round. This Columbia team reminds me of many of the fine teams that we have seen in the past under Coach George Kolumbatavitch. I look for us to bounce back strong on Saturday and go for the NFC Championship."
The Pioneers are back in action on Saturday, February 11th at UMASS-Amherst, where they will take on five teams including Boston College and Vassar at the final Northeast Fencing Conference competition of the season. Sacred Heart is currently alone in first place in the league standings and is eager to go for their third consecutive NFC championship. Action begins at 9 AM.