(Faifield, CT) - The Pioneers look to build on an excellent 2011- 2012 season to be contenders for the Northeast Fencing Conference title. The Pioneers finished the season with a 16-12 record, earning them 18th place in the last College Fencing 360 poll of the season. They finished 16th at the NCAA Championships thanks to a fine performance by Megan Floyd in epee. The Pioneers were 10-2 in Northeast Fencing Conference action and finished in third place. Their excellent effort coupled with a third consecutive undefeated NFC season from the Sacred Heart men to gain Sacred Heart its first Combined NFC Title. Their fourth place finish at the New England Intercollegiate Championship enabled the Pioneers to win their first ever combined title in this prestigious event. The team returns thirteen fencers, including all nine starters. They will be joined by a talented group of six freshmen that will have immediate impacts on all three weapons squads.
Senior team captain Jayme Smith (first team All NFC) will be joined again on the foil squad by last year's starters Aileen Trella (second team all NFC, Silver medalist at New England Collegiate Championship), and Tess Kallmeyer. Also returning will be sophomore Melissa Tsiames. New talent will be coming by way of CJ McCarter (Piedmont, SC, Brookshire Middle College Charter HS) and Aurora Luce (Wrentham, MA, Bishop Feehan HS). CJ is a C rated foilist and Aurora has four years of experience on the Bihop Feehan team. "Our foil squad was even better than expected last season", comments head coach Dr. Thomas Vrabel. "Jayme Smith was our rock as she has been throughout her career, Aileen Trella made a smooth transition into college fencing and had a great year and Tess Kallmeyer had a fine season as our third starter. I expect both CJ McCarter and Mel Tsiames to challenge for starting spots as should Aurora Luce once the season progresses. Jayme should once again be one of the top foilists in the region and for Aileen, Tess and Mel to improve off of their fine freshmen campaigns. I look forward to CJ having a major impact on the squad this year. This is the first time in our history that we have a foil squad that has talent depth and experience."
The epee squad returns the starting trio of senior squad captain Colleen Mason, sophomore Megan Floyd (first team All NFC, NCAA Championship Participant) and junior Natalie Rossetti . They will be joined again by sophomore Nicole Price and by the outstanding freshman duo of Rachel Burke (Glen Head NY, North Shore HS) and Mia Volpe (Ringwood NJ, Lakeland HS) Burke has been a B rated epeeist for several years and she has been on both the USFA cadet and Junior points lists in her career. Volpe was first team all Pasaic County last season and was named Suburban Trends Magazine Fencer of the Year. "I can't say enough about how our epee squad performed last season", said Dr. Vrabel. "Megan Floyd was outstanding last year and she enters this season knowing that she is one of the elite epeeists in collegiate fencing. Natalie Rossetti made a great transition to epee (from foil) last year and was only one touch away from making it to the NCAA Championship. Colleen Mason continues to be a solid performer and a great leader. I am very excited about the addition of both Rachel Burke and Mia Volpe this year. Both are tall (Burke 5'9", Volpe 5'10") and athletic and both fencers have had a large amount of experience in high level competition. They both have the talent to challenge immediately. This season we will have five epeeists that are at least 5'9", and height never hurts in epee. We have never had this level of talent and depth on our epee squad and I see this group challenging each other at every practice. While we have improved, so has our competition in the league, especially Boston College and MIT. This should be a very interesting season to see which epee squad is able to separate itself from the pack. I really like our chances in this battle."
Saber will benefit from the addition of two very talented freshmen this season. Natalia Dashnaw (Wayne NJ, Wayne Valley HS) and Lindsey Severud (Long Valley NJ, West Morris Central HS). Dashnaw is a C rated saber fencer who was a member of the NJ High School Champion saber squad at Wayne Valley. Lindsey Severud was a first team all Morris County selection as a senior. Both Dashnaw and Severud were third team all NJ performers during their high school careers. They will be joining a squad that returns senior starters from last season squad captain Lauren Cebello and Elena Tringa, senior Brooke Perlee, junior Gabby Garofano and sophomore Dominique Weigel. "I am very enthusiastic about the potential of our saber squad for this season," said Coach Vrabel. "This group has the potential to rival our squad when Tringa and Cebello were freshmen (which included multi-year All NFC star Krista Bacci and Catie Sagevick). I look for Elena Tringa to have a great year as a senior. Dominique Weigel has made great strides following her shift from epee mid season. Both Dashnaw and Severud will be huge additions to the squad. This will be the first season that we will have all three weapon squads with strong performers in all starting slots. Despite having all starters return from last season, I would not be surprised if we start four freshmen. This will be a very exciting year for Pioneer Women's Fencing!"
The team will showcase its talent at the Pioneer Fencing Red/White Scrimmage on Sunday, October 28th at the Pitt Athletic Center at 4 PM. The competitive season begins at the Big One Collegiate Individual tournament at Smith College on Saturday, November 3rd . The Pioneers will also host the SHU Invitational on Sunday, November 11th, where the teams will be in competition against squads from eight northeastern and mid-atlantic universities.