This is the message that UNC fencing head coach Matt Jednak has continued to instill in his fencers as they face top opponents time and time again.
Of the 44 teams in NCAA women's fencing, the Tar Heels have already faced all five teams in the preseason top five. Yet, the team has found ways to live up to the challenge.
North Carolina has earned numerous victories over top opponents, notably over then-No.5 Ohio State at the Elite Invitational duals at the University of Pennsylvania held on Nov. 19 and 20. Senior sabre Abigale Parker went 3-0 in round one against the Buckeyes, helping the Tar Heels achieve the upset.
Parker credited her early success to making her own energy with her teammates by preparing for the meet with an open mindset.
“Just getting those warmups down with your teammates is the most important part to being ready," she said.
At the same invitational, the Tar Heels secured a win against the UC San Diego. Redshirt sophomore sabre Sophia Kovacs and junior foil Sofia Molho followed in the footsteps of Parker and both went 3-0 against the Triton.
“The energy the team brings really helps at the end of the day,” Molho said. “At the end of that day against UC-San Diego I really thrived off my teammates just cheering me on.”
The UNC women’s fencing squad was ranked 14th in the preseason poll. As one of the only Division I fencing teams in the Southeast, the Tar Heels felt the need to live up to their ranking.