Ward Melville's undefeated boys and girls fencing teams overcame adversity Monday against Commack, whose teams entered the match with 6-1 records and had their eyes on Suffolk supremacy.
The Patriots' girls, defending a winning streak spanning 11 years, took the first three bouts before dropping the next six, then rebounded to win, 15-12. They improved to 8-0 and extended their run to 167 matches.
"We haven't been down 6-3 in years," girls coach Jennie Salmon said. "I told them to look at the score. Fence to win. Don't fence not to lose."
The Patriots' superb sabre squad of Alexa Rohan, Alexa Antipas and Kacy Charpin went 9-0 and carried the girls. They also received a boost from two eighth-graders who came up clutch and snagged tough victories against good opponents.
"Arianna Ferretti had a tremendous win," Salmon said. "The fencer she beat, Erin O'Neill, is one of the top epeeists in the county, and Arianna was a big underdog height-wise and age-wise. Another eighth-grader, Lara Obedin, pulled out the 14th bout and won the meet for us."
Ward Melville's boys also were engaged in heated competition throughout their 16-11 win. Ward Melville (8-0) led 11-10 when its foil squad sealed the victory. Michael Antipas scored the winning touch.
"I was really nervous at first and I didn't want to make any mistakes," Antipas said. "I just tried to find the right moment when he was coming forward and I would jump in. I knew he would counterattack and I got him. The whole match was setting up the last touch."
Ward Melville's Travis Quinn scored a crucial victory in sabre against Commack's Anand Somir, the reigning county champion.
"Facing Anand in that final bout was physically and mentally tough,'' Quinn said. "He can match my speed, his hand's quick, and he can set up actions. He can put two or three moves together before I can think, so I'm glad I was able to come out on top."