Pioneers win the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Tournament Championship

March 1, 2010

BOSTON, MA - The Pioneer men's fencing team completed the team portion of their season with their first ever championship at the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Tournament. The foil squad went 33-2 on their way to winning the foil squad championship and the Silvio Vitale Cup.

The epee squad was second with a 26-9 mark and the saber squad placed third in going 28-8. In addition to their first overall championship, this is the first time that all three Sacred Heart weapon squads placed in the top three at the same event.

The team part of the competition kicked off with the foil and epee events running simultaneously. Pioneer foil dominated with all three fencers placing first on their strip Jard Rebeor in A the strip and Ethan Patterson in the B strip both posted 11-1 marks while Stuart Holmes was a perfect 11-0.

Epee started off slowly but some timely substitutions in the B and C positions by head coach Tom Vrabel resulted in the squad coming back to take second. Justin Dion was a Perfect 12-0 in the A strip competiton while Nick Negron and Jeremiah German combined for a 8-4 record in the B strip and Nate Quigley and Kyle Dee were 6-5 in the C strip. After the close of the foil and epee events the Pioneers had 59 victories and were followed by Boston College (53 wins), MIT (51 wins) and Vassar (50 wins).

"The foil and epee squads did a job in getting us the lead," Dr. Vrabel. "It was now up to the saber squad to hold that lead against the very tough and talented BC and Vassar saber teams."

The saber squad got of to an inconsistent start, dropping two bouts each to both Boston College and Brandeis. Losses in the first two bouts against Vassar had eroded almost all of the Pioneer's lead. It was then that Marty Williams began his run to the championship, soundly defeating Vassar standout Andrew Fischl. The Pioneers went on to win their last 12 bouts in holding off Boston College by one victory, 87 to 86. All three Sacred Heart saber fencers qualified for the individual competition, with Marty Williams going 10-2 in the A strip, CJ Fleck 8-4 in the B and Ryan O'Halloran 10-2 in the C strip.

In the individual event five Pioneers qualified for their respective finals (Williams in saber, Dion in epee, and all three in foil). Ryan O'Halloran placed seventh and just missed advancing to the finals. Williams was a perfect 5-0 in winning the saber championship and dominated in bouts against NCAA championship veterans Peter Souders of BC, Andrew Fischl of Vassar and Adam Austin of Brandeis. Justin Dion had a tough final round and finished fifth. Rebeor was one touch shy of going in to a fence off for the championship and placed third. Ethan Patterson placed fourth and Stuart Holmes sixth in foil. This was the first time that Sacred Heart had five fencers in the finals. Their best previous finish was having two finalists.

"This was a fantastic way to finish the season," said Vrabel. "In the morning the foil squad and Justin Dion in epee were dominating in their performances and won critical bouts to get us a nice six bout lead. Midway through the saber both Williams and Fleck caught fire and we were able to stay ahead of a very strong BC saber squad."

"Marty Williams showed the best form of his collegiate career in the way that he took charge of the finals in the individual event. If he can continue this in to the first round of the NCAA Championship, he will make the championship round and have a great chance at being an All American. He has made great strides I dealing with confidence issues, as has have Patterson and Rebeor. I feel real good about the chance of having someo of our fencers make the championship event this season.

The Pioneers are back in action on March 6th at Brown in the first round of the NCAA Championship. Nine Sacred Heart University fencers (Williams, Fleck and O'Halloran in saber, Dion, German and Negron in epee, and Rebeor, Patterson and Holmes in foil) have qualified for the event where they will be attempting to make it to the NCAA Championship Finals which is to be held at Harvard from March 25-28.