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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 25 UNC women's fencing to face tough competition in 2022-23 season

Abigale Parker fences during the ACC Championship in Carmichael Arena on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Photo Courtesy of Jeffrey Camarati/UNC Women's Fencing.


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. 

In their first team invitational of the year, the Tar Heels went 3-5, handling No. 38 UC San Diego, No. 17 Incarnate Word, and the 23rd-ranked New Jersey Institute of Technology. 

“I think that they embrace it (the ranking),” Jednak said. “We’re not going to play outside ourselves, we’re not going to try to do things that are not us.”

The team traveled to Philadelphia this past week to compete in the Temple Duals against No. 36 Temple, No. 23 NJIT, and No. 18 Johns Hopkins. The Tar Heels finished 2-1 on the day, defeating both NJIT and Johns Hopkins, but fell short to the Owls by a mere three points. 

UNC stayed in Pennsylvania to face No. 32 Sacred Heart, No. 15 Haverford, No. 24 NYU, No. 20 Lafayette and No. 13 Fairleigh Dickinson University in the Philadelphia Invitational. UNC finished with a record of 4-1, falling only to NYU by only one point. The team also completed their first clean win of the season, defeating Fairleigh Dickinson 27-0.

The Tar Heels have an arsenal of top opponents awaiting them. UNC will face rival No. 12 Duke in the ACC Championships and other top opponents at the Tar Heel Invitational — the first regular-season competition held in Chapel Hill since 2010. 

While these matches are no less important, many fencers have NCAA Championship qualification on their minds. 

“It’s not just about qualifying,” Jednak said. “We want to thrive there, we want to push. And the people we have been fencing, specifically these past couple weeks, are the people that are going to be pushing for postseason qualification as well.”

While the season is not yet over, the Tar Heels have proved themselves. Going against highly ranked competitors every time they set foot on the piste is not easy, but so far, the team has been pleased with its results.

“Each time we compete we are seeing highly ranked teams,” Parker said. “I think we are just really holding up well.”


@dthsports |

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