Pioneers win Four Matches in Northeast Fencing Conference Opener

Nov. 23, 2009

PROVIDENCE, RI - The Pioneer womens fencing team kicked off their 2009-10 Northeast Fencing Conference campaign by going 4-2 at Brown on Saturday. Sacred Heart defeated Wellesley 15-12, Boston University 21-6, New Hampshire 17-10 and MIT 15-12, while losing matches against Brown 17-10 and Brandeis 19-8.

The 4-2 start was the best ever in conference play for the Pioneers and the win over MIT was the first ever for SHU over this perennial fencing power.

The day started off with a critical match against Wellesley. The Pioneers defeated Wellesley last season and they were eager to return the favor. Wellesley took an early 5-4 lead after the first round on the strength of taking two of three from SHU in both saber and epee.

Wins by freshmen Jayme Smith and Oriana Mayorga in foil were critical in keeping the Pioneers in the match. All three weapon squads bounced back to win seven bouts in the second round and give the Pioneers an 11-7 lead. Leading the way was the saber squad of senior team captain Krista Bacci and freshmen Elena Tringa and Lauren Cebello who swept Wellesley in this round. Freshmen Brooke Perlee also posted a critical win in epee by defeating first team all league selection Emily Johnson. SHU was able to close out Wellesley on the backs of another sweep by saber and a second win from freshman foilist Smith.

"This was a great win for a very young team," commented head coach Dr. Thomas Vrabel. "With senior saberist Catie Sagevick out for the day's action we had to start six freshmen on a team that lost three of our top four fencer's from last year's squad. Elena Tringa has jumped of to a great start in saber as have Jayme Smith in foil and Colleen Mason in epee. Freshman Lauren Cebello also did a great job replacing Sagevick in a starting saber spot. This was a great accomplishment for so young a team."

The Pioneers kept their momentum going by defeating Boston University 21-6 before falling to Brown 17-10.

After the lunch break, SHU went back into action with a 17-10 win over New Hampshire and then faced perennial league power MIT. Sacred Heart lost a close heartbreaking 14-13 match to the Engineers last year and faced MIT just after they lost a tight 14-13 match to Brandeis. The Pioneer epee squad stepped up and led the way with a 7-2 record. Five wins by the saber squad and another perfect 3-0 effort from Smith in foil gave the Pioneers a 15-12 win and their first ever victory over MIT. This win leaves only Brown and Brandeis as teams in the Northeast Conference that are perfect against SHU over the past four seasons. The Pioneers were unable to keep the magic going and fell to a talented Brandeis squad 19-8 in the final match of the day.

The Pioneers were led on the day by Smith who went 15-3 and has positioned herself as a contender for all league honors.

"Jayme has had an unbvelievable start to her career at SHU," said Dr. Vrabel. "Not only is she now 23-5 in NCAA bouts but her losses were close as well. Her decision making has been excellent and her competitive fire has inspired many of her teammates. Jayme has a great future ahead of her on our foil squad".

Another freshman who displays intense competitive fire in her performances is saberist Tringa who went 14-4 and currently has a 19-3 record in NCAA bouts. Tringa and Bacci (13-5 on the day) led the saber squad to a combined 35-19 record on Saturday.

"Elena is a great athlete who has great length and quickness," said Vrabel. "She is also an excellent study of her opponents. She told me after her loss in the finals of the Big One to Brown star Caitlyn Taylor not to worry because she now knew how to handle Taylor. After Elena's 5-3 defeat of Taylor on Saturday she reminded me of her prediction from two weeks ago. I believe that she will follow up her few losses from yesterday with similar performances when she meets those opponents in the future. The combination of Tringa and Bacci will be one of our strong suites this season."

The epee squad finished the day with only one fewer victory than saber, going 34-20. Mason led the squad, finishing 12-6 for the day, including a three-win sweep of MIT.

"Colleen only seriously started fencing epee this past summer," commented Vrabel. "Once she really gets comfortable in the weapon I look forward to her being as successful as Smith and Tringa. Brooke Perlee also had a great first day of league competition (8-8). I look for these two freshmen to be a great tandem for us for the next four seasons."

The Pioneers are back in action on Sunday, November 29th at Harvard with matches against Harvard, Princeton, NYU, Vassar, Temple, UNC Chapel Hill and defending NCAA Champions Penn State