(Fairfield, CT) - The Pioneers look to take advantage of a talented class of freshmen and again challenge for a Northeast Fencing Conference title. The nine returning fencers welcome seven freshmen that bring impact talent in epee and both talent and depth in foil.
Team junior captain Jayme Smith is joined by four freshmen in foil. Aileen Trella is a second team all state New Jersey fencer with explosive speed and fierce determination and will be on B strip to compliment Smith. Also slated to start will be superb tactician Tess Kallmeyer from California. Backing up this trio and also expected to make major contributions are Melissa Tsiames from Connecticut and Kristin Fischbach from Long Island.
"These new foilists are a Godsend for our team," said head coach Dr. Thomas Vrabel. "We finally have a high skill level across the foil squad. This is very fortunate for us since it allows me to shift Natalie Rossetti over to epee, where she will be fencing the A strip this year. Jayme has had a great preseason and the freshmen have really benefitted from her leadership. I look for our foil squad to be very solid this year."
The epee squad will benefit from both the addition of Rossetti and freshman star Megan Floyd from Pennsylvania. Senior Sara Graziosi, Junior Brooke Perlee (fencing epee and saber), and freshmen Nikki Price from Massachusetts and Dominique Weigel from Connecticut round out the squad. "We are very fortunate that Rossetti and Floyd will be starting with all league selection and squad captain Colleen Mason," comments Vrabel. "We will have a very tall and athletic epee squad. With Natalie and Colleen being left-handed and Megan being very quick for a gal who is six feet tall we should have a dominant epee squad this year. All three of these fencers have the talent to fill the A strip slot but I have decided to go with Rossetti in that position because of her incredible mental toughness. There is no question that across the board we have one of the top epee squads in the region."
Saber will benefit with the return to the lineup of first team all league fencer Elena Tringa. Tringa, who was one win away from going to the NCAA Championship as a freshmen, will join returning squad captain junior Lauren Cebello in the starting lineup. The third starting spot will be filled with a rotation of juniors Kate Poplaski and Brooke Perlee and sophomore Gabby Garofano. "Having Tringa back makes a huge difference for us," says Dr. Vrabel. "Cebello is moving much better as she is now fully recovered from a serious knee injury that she incurred as a high school senior. I also expect Perlee, Garofano and Poplaski to surprise folks and get some key wins for us in the C spot."
Vrabel is particularly excited about this season's prospects. "This team has the potential to be the best ever fielded by Sacred Heart," he said. "I do believe that we have a legitimate shot at the league title. We also have a great opportunity to send one or two athletes to the NCAA Championships. This will be agreat rebound year for us."
The team will showcase its talent at the Pioneer Fencing Red/White Scrimmage on Sunday, October 23rd at the Pitt Athletic Center at 4 PM. The competitive season begins at the Big One collegiate tournament at Smith College on November 5th.