(Cambridge, MA) - The Sacred Heart University Men's Fencing Team once again took the first critical step on their quest for fourth consecutive Northeast Fencing Conference Championship as they went a perfect 5-0 at the NFC meet at MIT on Saturday. They defeated Bostun University 26-1, Brown University 14-13, University of New Hampshire 27-0, MIT 15-12 and Brandeis University 16-11. This makes the fourth consecutive year that the Pioneers have defeated the Brown Bruins by a 14-13 score.
The Pioneer's quest for a fourth consecutive championship would be a difficult challenge with the graduation of All Americans and four time all NFC First team selections Justin Dion and Marty Williams and with the exceptionally strong recruiting classes at Brown and MIT. The Pioneers were led on the day and in the crucial Brown match by Stuart and Andrew Holmes, who were both a perfect 15-0 on the day. Brown won the initial round 6-3 with the Holmes Brothers and Jon Jacovino posting the 3 SHU wins. The Pioneers won the second round 5-4 but this still left SHU trailing 10-8. Following a sweep of the epee bouts and wins from the Holmes brothers in foil, the match was tied 13-13 going into the final saber bout. Saber squad captain Tommy Gerrity rose to the occasion and deeated Brown's Teddy Weller 5-3 to seal the win. In the next two critical matches, the Pioneers got off to a 6-3 first round lead against MIT and expended the lead to 11-7 with a 5-4 record in the second round. The 3-0 sweep by foil in the third round earned Sacred Heart its second major win of the day. The team won all three rounds against a very spirited Brandeis team to finish the day with a 16-11 victory.
The day's competition was dominated by the Pioneer foil squad, who went a combined 41-4 on the day. The Holmes brothers were joined in the starting lineup by freshmen standout Alex Harwood, who rose to the occasion and was 11-2. Jon Jacovino moved to epee on Saturday and won two critical bouts against Brown. The epee team was led by graduate squad captain Jeremiah German, who went 10-4, Kevin Almerini, who went 6-0 including a critical sweep against Brandeis and Khris White, who also posted two critical wins versus Brown. Squad captain Tommy Gerrity paced the saber squad with a 12-3 mark, going 2-1 in each of the crucial Brown, MIT and Brandeis matches.
"This was an absolutely amazing accomplishment today," comments head coach Dr. Thomas Vrabel. "There are many very competitive teams with strong traditions in the Northeast Fencing Conference and I know that beating SHU has been the focus of our competitors efforts. Maybe this year's Pioneer team was underestimated by our opponents. I know that we never underestimated what it would take to sweep this day but we also never underestimated the level of heart and dedication that our team has. We have a great leader in Stuart Holmes and he has a great supporting cast in his squad captains (Gerrity and German). Stuart and Andrew Holmes were incredible today. Alex Harwood's performance was a key to our success. He replaced an all-league fencer in Jon Jacovino and stepped up to the challenge with an awesome performance. Jacovino was a super team player in moving to epee and helped out with critical wins in the Brown match. The performances of Kevin Almerini and Khris White were keys to the Brandeis and Brown wins respectively and I just can't say enough about the performance and leadership of Jeremiah German in epee. Tommy Gerrity knew that with the loss of Marty Williams he had to win critical saber bouts and he did a splendid job all day. This was a great day for the entire team."
"One of Sun-Tze's famous dictums is, 'All battles are won before they begin,'"said Dr. Vrabel. " I know that our preparation for this competition has been relentless since the start of the semester. We knew that it would take a very dedicated effort to sweep this meet and the results speak for themselves. We are now once again the team to beat for the Northeast Fencing Conference Championship."
The Pioneers will take a major step up in class when they travel to Vassar on December 1st to take on perennial national powers Penn State, Harvard, UPenn, Princeton, UNC Chapel Hill, and NYU. The competition begins at 10 AM.