Pioneers Kick Off Season with 4-1 Record at Vassar Invitational

Justin Dion

(Poughkeepsie, NY) - The Sacred Heart University dual match fencing season kicked off on Sunday at the Vassar Invitational.  The Pioneers went 4-1 on the day, Defeating Drew University 22-5, Yeshiva University 22-5, Hunter College 20-7 and Stevens Tech 16-11.  Their only loss of the day was to a strong Haverford College Team 20-7. 

The Foil squad picked up where it left off at the Big One Championship last Saturday and posted an impressive 35-10 record.  The squad was led by an excellent 10-2 performance by sophomore Stuart Holmes, who was closely followed by a 9-3 day from sophomore  Ethan Patterson and a 10-4 result from senior team captain Jim Roberts.  Justin Dion continued to dominate epee in going 10-2 on the day.  Freshman Peter Freiss (10-3) and Sophomore Ryan O'Halloran (8-3) led the saber squad to a 29-16 overall result.

"Sunday was a good start to the season," said head coach Dr. Thomas Vrabel.  "The 20-7 loss to Haverford was disappointing, but I am very happy with how the team bounced back against a talented Stevens Tech squad. I am very pleased with the intensity and focus of our foil team.  Jim Roberts has been great this year as he comes back in to the starting position he had as a sophomore.   His 3-0 performance against Stevens was critical to our winning that match.  I look for him to have a very successful season.  Stuart Holmes' intensity and focus was impressive today.  He came back from a couple of 4-2 deficits against some very strong competition.  He is never out of a bout and always has excellent intensity.  Ethan Patterson was also solid and his wins against Weiss from Drew and Van Son from Haverford will help his Power Ranking for the NCAA Regionals.  We had a fencer lose out on going to the NCAA Championships due to a one win differential last season, so these early quality wins are very important.  I look for our foil squad to lead the team through this season."

Despite Justin Dion's strong performance, the epee squad struggled on Sunday.  Travis Pereira reinjured his shoulder and had to sit out most of the day.  Despite a very good effort, Jeremiah German lost several key bouts by 5-4 margins.  "We definitely still have some work to do in epee", said Dr. Vrabel.  "Our desire is there but our execution still is a bit lacking.  We have identified issues to focus on in practice this week that should address these issues." 

Peter Freiss had a strong day in saber even though he was struggling with a case of vertigo on Sunday.  "Considering how he felt, I don't know how Pete did it yesterday", said Dr. Vrabel.  "He really gutted it out.  His dedication was awesome.  Peter's will to win is great.  If he is completely healthy on Saturday at MIT he should have a great day for us.  Freshman Sean Vilar was nervous early but as the day wore on he settled down and began to perform very well.  He has a great future for us this season.  Ryan O'Halloran is much improved from last season and was very explosive today.  I think that he will continue to gain confidence in his game this year.  Hopefully the loss to Haverford has shaken us up and will get us ready for the Northeast Fencing Conference matches this Saturday.   We lost to them in a similar fashion last season and then went on to go undefeated the next weekend.  Maybe we can do the same thing this year."

The Pioneers will be back in action at MIT on Saturday, November 20th against MIT, Brandeis, Brown, Boston College, New Hampshire, and Boston University.