Dec. 3, 2009
CAMBRIDGE, MA - The Sacred Heart men's fencing team took a serious jump in class on Sunday when it travelled to Harvard to Face 2009 NCAA Champions Penn State as well as Harvard, Princeton, NYU, North Carolina and Vassar (5th, 8th, 15th, 20th and 24th last year at the NCAA Championships).
The day started well with a strong performance in a 16-11 lost to the Crimson. The Pioneers were led by freshman foil star Jared Rebeor who went 3-0 in the match. The wind was knocked out of their sails by Princeton, who handed Sacred Heart a 20-7 defeat that the Tigers controlled from the outset.
"The Princeton match just took the starch out of the team today," said head coach Dr. Tom Vrabel. "They meant business from the start and just outfocused and outhustled us. It, unfortunately, really affected us for the rest of the day."
The Pioneers tried to rebound against North Carolina and came back from a rough first round to tie the match at 9-all going in to the final round. The Pioneers weren't able to maintain their intensity and went 3-6 on their way to a 15-12 loss. Once again, Rebeor led the way, going 3-0 in foil. This match was won in the close bouts where the Pioneers went 1-7 in one touch bouts and 1-3 in the critical one touch bouts in the last round.
Following the lunch break the team took on Vassar. Once again SHU had to play catch up as the Brewers jumped out to a 6-3 lead after the first round. The Pioneers rallied once again to tie the match at 9 going into the final round. Epee did its part by going 3-0 with big wins by Justin Dion, Travis Pereira and Jeremiah German. Unfortunately, saber was not up to the task as all three Pioneers went down to defeat, including Marty Williams to the C strip Brewer Dennis D'Urso 5-2. This left the match tied at 12 all.
Freshman Ethan Patterson started out by defeating Vassar's Michael D'Urso 5-0 to give Sacred Heart the lead at 13-12. Brewer senior Jesse Bisignano kept Vassar alive with a 5-1 defeat of freshman Stuart Holmes. This set up a winner take all bout between two talented freshmen - Rebeor of Sacred Heart and Tavish Pegram of Vassar. The bout was tied at 2-2 when time ran out.
Rebeor won the coin toss and had priority. This meant that if the one minute overtime ran out before a touch was scored, Rebeor would be awarded the win. In a furious battle Pegram was able to successfully avoid Rebeor's parry and land an attack with 20 seconds remaining, giving Vassar the victory.
"This one was really hard to take," said Vrabel. "The 0-3 start that epee had really dug us a hole and the 0-3 finish of saber put us in a spot that we should not have been in. Jared was great all day and just came up short on that final bout. Once again we could not close the deal in the last round."
The Pioneers gave it all they had but were comfortably defeated by NCAA Champs Penn State 21-6.
This left SHU with a final match against NYU. The Pioneers once again came back from a 4-5 deficit to tie the score at 9 going in to the final round. Foil did its job with wins by Rebeor and Patterson but epee went 1-2 and saber 0-3 as the Pioneers again suffered a third round collapse to lose 15-12.
"This was a day of lost opportunities for us," said Vrabel. "When it came down to closing the deal we could not do what we did last week at Brown, where the team went 5-0. The needed confidence will come once the overall focus of the team improves. This wil come with increased dedication in practice."
"To win at the level the intensity has to be there 24-7, and we are still learning how to accomplish this feat. We have made great strides and are now in matches that we had no chance with last season. It is still hard to these opportunities slip away. Hopefully hard work over the break will get us ready for our next match."
Despite the disappointing overall results, several fencers had strong individual performances. Rebeor led the way with a 12-6 record while his freshman counterpart Ethan Patterson was 9-7. Rebeor and Patterson now sport records of 23-10 and 20-12 on the season.
"This was a very exciting performance for Jared in his first college dual match experience against this level of competition," commented Dr Vrabel. "I expect him to stay at this speed when we go to UPenn in January."
Williams went 11-7 on the day in saber and Dion posted an 8-6 mark in epee.
"This was no question a disappointing day for Marty", said Vrabel. "He will have to come on strong at UPenn if he is to keep his NCAA Championship quailifying hopes on track. Dion was fighting a migraine all day and did a great job dispite his condition. He still has to focus more on hand and arm touches if he is to begin to dominate at this level. I am very interested to see how he does at UPenn."
The Pioneers will resume their season on January 9th at the Philadelphia Invitational at the University of Pennsylvania, where they will take on six teams including perennial powers UPenn and Duke.