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The Daily Tar Heel

North Carolina fencing has encouraging showing at Ohio State Elite Invitational

Women's fencing ACC Championships

The North Carolina women's fencing team celebrates its 2018 ACC team title, the first in school history, on Feb. 24 in Carmichael Arena.

The North Carolina fencing team showed improvement against some of the top talent in the nation. 

What happened?

The UNC men’s and women’s fencing teams faced a tough test at the Ohio State Elite Invitational. Both teams showed that they were up to the task by getting key victories in the opening rounds during the first day of competition. The men took care of Cleveland State defeating the squad, 22-5. The women also beat the Vikings by a large margin, 21-6. The men also edged Cornell by a score of 14-13.  

Both the men and the women lost every other match to close out the first day. Each team showed their ability to compete with some quality showings against high-ranked teams. The men lost by a single point to Northwestern and hung tight with Ohio State in a 17-10 loss.  

The theme of the second day was similar. Each team had a win, along with some respectable loses. The men’s team had a 15-12 victory over Princeton and the women had a 16-11 win against Cornell. 

Both teams did, however, suffer a tough loss to ACC rival, Notre Dame. The Irish used a dominant 9-0 finish in the foil to handily defeat both Tar Heel teams. Head coach Ron Miller went into greater detail on the loss.

“It wasn’t that we didn’t fight against Notre Dame, there was something missing.”

Despite, the tough defeat, Miller is very proud of the improvement his team showed.

If you look at the same competition last year, we probably showed a 20-30 percent improvement,” he said.

Who stood out?

Each weapon had a key role in the team's success. It was a team effort. Miller commended the group for playing well at all facets.

“The best thing that I think we did was balance," he said.

Junior Jackie Litynski had a solid outing for the Tar Heels. She came up huge in each of her victories. All of the women in the epee and foil fenced evenly and there was no one who stood out from the rest.  

For the men’s team, sophomore Joe Taylor and junior Jacob Henkels helped the men earn an 8-1 advantage in the epee in a dominant win over Cleveland State. Taylor also won all three of his matches in an upset win over Princeton. Senior Matthew Garrelick also made a big impact in that game in the foil.  He won two of the the six points earned.  

When was it decided?

The women had two very strong performances against Cornell. Many different fencers stepped and got a point when the team needed it most. The blowout loss against Notre Dame will sting, but the team has plenty of time to make corrections so it can defend the ACC Championship.  

The men had a signature win against Princeton on the second day. The team also fought hard in its defeat against Notre Dame.  The Tar Heels gave the Irish no easy points. The men will meet again a few more times, including in the ACC Championship, where the Tar Heels look to dethrone the Irish as conference champions.  

Why does it matter?

After a having a rough performance during the Garret Penn State Open, the Tar Heels were looking to get back on the right track.  The team did just that.

The Tar Heels showed significant improvement across all weapons.  They also had a few very impressive victories against nationally-recognized teams.  

The Tar Heels came into the competition with a lot of injuries. Several youngsters put up strong performances and earned some key experience that will bode well for the team in the future.    

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When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will look to keep their positive momentum going on Dec. 2nd when they travel to Waltham, Mass., for the Brandeis Invitational.

@ryanheller23

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com