DURHAM, N.H. - The Sacred Heart men's fencing team swept all five of its matches in decisive fashion Saturday at New Hampshire on their way to winning their fifth consecutive NFC Championship on the final date of the conference season. Coupled with the Sacred Heart women's team's first NFC Crown, the Pioneers will also share the NFC combined Title with Brown University. Both programs finished the conference season with 20-2 marks.
Sacred Heart started fast and did not look back, posting wins over Vassar (21-6), UMass (26-1), Boston College (19-8), Tufts (23-4) and Dartmouth (21-6). Epee was a dominant 42-3 on the day, led by perfect performances by Devon Clark (15-0) and Khristopher White (12-0) and a strong day from Jonathan Jacovino (13-2). Foil went 36-9 and was led by junior squad captain Andrew Holmes (14-1) and freshman James Turner (7-2). Saber was 32-13 and was anchored by excellent records by junior squad captain Thomas Gerrity (14-1) and freshman Schuyler Milone (12-3).
"When Brown was defeated by MIT two weeks ago this put us back in the NFC championship chase", said head coach Dr. Thomas Vrabel. "Our team made sure that we would take advantage of this opportunity for a fifth consecutive NFC Title. Epee was flat out dominant today. Devon Clark and Khris White had only one bout between them where they trailed an opponent. All three of our epee starters were in a very effective zone on Saturday. White has explosive power, Jacovino is a master technician and Clark is up there with Justin Dion as the toughest athlete that we have had in epee."
"It was very satisfying to see our epee squad complete its sweep of the NFC this season," added Vrabel. "Their combined conference record of 78-12 is the highest that we have ever had for an epee squad. All our foilists had good days and I was very pleased to see the success that Andrew Holmes and James Turner had. They have emerged as our 1-2 punch in foil this season. Holmes has been solid for all three years and he is in the running to earn All-Conference First Team honors for the second consecutive year. Turner has had a nice start to his Pioneer career, but has not yet come near his potential and his competitiveness and focus under pressure is something that we have been lacking this season in foil. It was pleasing to see how Sky Milone has developed this year and has become a nice complement to our saber leader Tommy Gerrity. It was also nice to see how Kevin Stimmel stepped up today when an opportunity presented itself."
"This year was one of transition for us. With the loss to graduation of Stuart Holmes and Jeremiah German, the move of Jacovino to epee and the addition of the freshmen Milone and Turner to the starting lineup we had five new starters this year. When you lose a leader like Stuart Holmes you expect challenges as the team struggles to find its identity and replace his wins. Kevin Almerini has done a super job as team captain. It looks like we are coming together nicely for the season's stretch run."
The Pioneers will be back in action at the New England Intercollegiate Championship Tournament at Mount Holyoke College on Saturday, February 22, 2014. Action will start at 9 AM.