The latest chapter in Long Island’s pre-eminent girls fencing rivalry unfolded Thursday as Ward Melville and Commack met on the strip for an early-season match.
Led by Lara Obedin’s 3-0 performance in foil, the host Patriots topped Commack, 15-12, in Suffolk I. The match was tied at 11 before the Patriots’ foil and epee unit won four of the final five bouts. “We knew we had to bring it and we definitely did,” Obedin said.
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The rivalry between the powerhouses grew more intense last year after Commack ended Ward Melville’s 195-match winning streak in January. The Patriots won the rematch in February en route to a 13th straight Long Island championship.
“We always push ourselves, but given how close things were last year, we have to bring it even harder against them,” said Gabrielle Petrie, who went 2-1 in foil.
While the intensity remains the same, the structure of both teams differs this season. Both teams’ strongest units last year — Ward Melville sabre and Commack epee — graduated all three starters. Now Ward Melville is led by veterans on epee and foil, while Commack’s anchor unit is sabre.
“It’s a different dynamic now,” said Arianna Ferretti, who went 2-1. “The seniors have graduated, so now we’re the older girls and it’s up to us to help the younger ones.”
Sandra O’Brien also went 3-0 in foil, and Valentine Zavala-Arbelaez and Julia Duffy went 2-1 in epee for the Patriots (2-0).
Commack (2-1) was led by Gabby Musto (3-0), Stephanie Miller (3-0), and Rachel Dehan (2-1) in sabre, and Jung Soo Ahn went (3-0) in epee.
Ward Melville boys’ streak hits 126. At the other end of the gym, Peyton LaTourrette and Stephen Jackson went 3-0 in foil and Mike Jacklitsch went 3-0 in epee to lead the Patriots over Commack, 19-8.
The win was their second of the year and 126th in a row, and Jackson called it a “privilege” to add to the streak.
“When I was on the team in seventh grade, the streak almost felt like an expectation,” said LaTourrette, a senior. “But as I continued fencing, I realized how much effort everyone has put in over the years.”
Ryan Baldi (3-0 in sabre) and Commack (2-1) kept things tight early before Ward Melville went 10-1 to close the match, a stretch Jacklitsch said was a testament to the team’s “strength on all fronts.”