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'Gritty' Valley Stream could be a sleeper in Nassau

Valley Stream fencing coach Evan Samuelson said he was "worried" before the current season got started.

At the time, it was easy to see why, considering the senior leaders the team lost to graduation.

Now though, it is probably safe to say Samuelson can put his concerns to rest.

Valley Stream District girls fencing is 8-4 and might just be capable of playing spoiler in a county tournament that will include favorites Oyster Bay, Garden City, and Great Neck South.

“The experience wasn’t there,” Samuelson said, speaking on his outlook before the season.

What has driven Valley Stream’s success, then?

Samuelson says the team’s work ethic and mental toughness have been the keys to overcoming its inexperience.

“They really work,” he said. He also praised his squad’s “grit,” saying it gives his fencers an “intangible…edge in matches.”

J.V. Andres, one of the senior leaders Samuelson does have at his disposal, has been a big help in these areas.

The coach says Andres, a sabre fencer, “makes sure everyone is working hard [and] helps me a lot."

Chantelle Duncan, a senior epee fencer, and Sabrina DeCopain, a junior in foil, have also taken leadership roles, Samuelson says.

Samantha Lohair joins DeCopain in foil to form what might be Valley Stream’s strongest weapon unit.

The Nassau County team fencing tournament begins on February 4.

Tags: Valley Stream , fencing , J.V. Andres , Samantha Lohair , Sabrina DeCopain

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