UNC fencing shows improvement in Philadelphia Invitational

The North Carolina fencing team found its form at the Philadelphia Invitational on Saturday, turning in its most complete performance of the year, with the women going 5-0 as the men went 4-1.

What happened?

The Tar Heel women opened the day with a 15-12 win over Cornell, thanks in large part to UNC winning seven of the nine bouts in foil. After a pair of 23-4 victories over Sacred Heart and Farleigh Dickinson, the Tar Heels defeated New Jersey Institute of Technology 22-5, leaving one more match against Drew University.

The Rangers took the first bout of the match, but UNC won the final 26, giving the Tar Heels a 26-1 victory and a perfect record on the day.

UNC’s men also found their stiffest competition in the day’s first match, as they fell to NYU 16-11. In the second match of the day, the Tar Heels trailed Sacred Heart 12-6, needing to win eight of nine saber bouts to salvage a victory. But UNC did just that, going 8-1 and pulling out a 14-13 victory.

North Carolina won its final three matches of the day, defeating John’s Hopkins (16-11), NJIT (14-13), and Haverford (23-4) to finish the day 4-1 overall.

Who stood out?

Head coach Ron Miller was most impressed by the overall performance of both teams rather than singling out one or two fencers in particular. For the men, senior captain Theo Onigbinde provided leadership, especially with one assistant coach and a number of teammates ailing with the flu.

On the women’s side, the Tar Heels finished the event with a 43-6 record in foil bouts, led by Carlexa Fevry (7-0) and Amanda Lalezarian (8-1). Meredith Bozentka led the Tar Heels with a 10-1 record in saber and Samantha Galina finished epee at 9-2.

When was it decided?

Over the course of the season, the Tar Heel men have struggled to find consistency over all three weapons. But on Saturday, they finally found their stride. The men especially succeeded in saber, finishing the final four matches with a collective 28-8 record.

The women were only really challenged in their first match against Cornell. The Tar Heels’ overwhelming success in foil bouts — which are the first to be contested — gave UNC an early lead in every match, eventually translating to a perfect 5-0 record on the day.

Why does it matter?

After weeks of playing against highly ranked foes, Saturday gave North Carolina a chance to play less highly touted competition and it took full advantage. Miller was thrilled by the support that the Tar Heels showed their teammates, especially considering that the team was partially shorthanded thanks to the flu.

Where do they play next?

UNC will travel to Evanston, Ill. next for the Northwestern Duals at 8 a.m. on Feb. 4 and 5.

sports@dailytarheel.com

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