Pioneers Go 1-3 at Philadelphia Invitational.

Pioneers Go 1-3 at Philadelphia Invitational.

Jan. 10, 2010

PHILADELPHIA, PA - The Pioneer men's fencing team kicked off the second half of the season with a trip to UPenn's Hutchinson Gym for the 2010 Philadelphia Invitational last weekend. Sacred Heart defeated a much-improved NJIT squad 21-6 while dropping matches to UPenn 18-9, North Carolina 20-7 and Duke 18-9.

Leading the way for the Pioneers were sophomore stars Justin Dion in epee (8-4) and Marty Williams in saber (8-4).

The day began with a respectable 18-9 loss against perennial power UPenn, where both the epee and saber squads had four wins each against the Quakers. Epee and saber had similar results against Duke in another 18-9 loss. The Pioneers performance dipped against the UNC Tarheels with a 20-7 loss, where Sacred Heart lost five 5-4 bouts and the loss of Jared Rebeor and Jim Roberts from competition had a major impact.

The team bounced back and consistently won closely contested bouts against a vastly improved NJIT team in a 21-6 win. Foil led the way with an 8 win performance on the backs of 3-0 records from freshmen Stuart Holmes and Ethan Patterson. Marty Williams and Justin Dion also had 3-0 performances against the Highlanders.

"I was very apprehensive going into this meet in Philadelphia," said head coach Dr. Thomas Vrabel. "Not having our first and fourth best foilists available presented us with a big challenge. I was pleased with how we performed against Penn, but the Duke and Carolina results were frustrating. I am happy about how we regrouped and handled NJIT. That match was much closer than the score indicates and it shows what we can do if everybody is on their game."

"I think many questions were answered today," continued Vrabel. "In epee, Nick Negron (6-5 record) and Jeremiah German (3-4) have stepped up their games and have solidified starting spots for themselves. In saber, CJ Fleck and Ryan O'Halloran were much better in handling the pressure of this level of competition and they had their best performances of the year. Foilists Ethan Patterson and Stuart Holmes fenced better than their 5-7 records indicate and they should be poised to have strong conclusions to the season.

"I am eager to see how we build on our success against NJIT when we fence Yale in three weeks."

The Pioneers are back in action on Saturday, January 30 at 1 PM when they travel to Yale's Paine-Whitney Gym to face the Bulldogs.