(Philadelphia, PA) - The Pioneers traveled to the University of Pennsylvania's Hutchinson Gym on Saturday for the 2011 Philadelphia Invitational. They defeated NJIT 19-8 and Johns Hopkins 18-9, while losing to UPenn 18-9, UNC Chapel Hill 15-12, Haverford 15-12, and Duke 24-3.
The team was paced by the epee squad, which went 31-23, including a dominating 15-3 performance by junior Justin Dion (North Attleboro, MA) and a solid 9-8 record from sophomore Jeremiah German (Pittsburgh, PA). Foil finished 28-26 and was led by strong performances from sophomores Stuart Holmes (Centereach, NY) at 11-7 and Victor Nieto (The Woodlands, TX) at 7-6. Saber felt the absence of Marty Williams (Plainfield, NJ) and Ryan O'Halloran (Garden City, NY) and posted a 15-39 record. Peter Freiss (Stony Brook, NY) led the squad with six victories.
"I am very proud of how the team performed on Sunday," said head coach Dr. Thomas Vrabel. "Despite missing four starters from the beginning of the season, the team had its best performance ever in Philadelphia. Earlier this season we lost to both North Carolina and Haverford by 20-7 scores but this time around we were only two touches away from winning each match. Despite our progress, we still need to improve in 5-4 bouts (SHU was 10-26 on the day). This is the only thing that is keeping us from becoming a solid top 10 program."
With his stellar 15-3 performance, Dion now has now raised his winning percentage to 80% for the year. This is the first time that a Sacred Heart fencer has reached this level of excellence at so late in the season.
"Justin has added new tactics into his arsenal since last semester and he has become even more effective", said Dr. Vrabel. "He controlled most of his bouts on Saturday. In addition to only losing three times, only two of his victories were by a single touch. This is very impressive when you consider the quality of the competition that he faced. The entire epee squad was more confident and it especially showed in Jeremiah German's performance. Holmes and Nieto were also impressive in Foil and have made great progress from this time last season. We hope to have O'Halloran and Williams back in saber for this weekend's match against Yale. We feel very good about our chances to repeat as Northeast Fencing Conference Champions when we finish the conference slate in two weeks at Wellesley."
The Pioneers will go into the final Conference matches with a perfect 5-0 record and a one win edge on 4-1 Vassar.
The Pioneers are back in action this Saturday at Yale's Paine-Whitney Athletic Complex where they take on the Bulldogs in a noon start.