Meet Newsday's All-Long Island girls fencing team for the 2019-20 winter season.
Newsday Fencer of the Year: Erica Chen, Half Hollow Hills, Sr.
Chen was the undisputed top sabre fencer in Suffolk for two years.
She went 42-0 this season and took her third straight gold medal at the Jeff Wolfe Holiday Tournament at Brentwood in December. In the county tournament, she defeated teammate Olivia Jin in a fence-off to win her second straight sabre title. It was a fitting end to a remarkable career.
“The example Erica sets is excellence,” Hills coach Dennis Daly said. “It was never about Erica and always about the team — she leads in front, by example, without complaining and always did what needed to be done to bring the team along.”
Chen has been leading the Hills fencing team since her freshman year, albeit in a variety of ways.
“She always knew where her place was in the pecking order in growing and grooming to be the next leader, and she was able to sit back and watch the older fencers on the team, understand what their role and responsibilities were, and she'd fit into the role of second leader to bring the rest of the team along,” Daly said. “She was that type of athlete - the type of individual that understood that helping the individuals that struggle will make the team better.”
As Chen’s responsibilities on the team grew each year, her skills followed. Chen, who will fence for MIT next season, compiled a 67-1 record over the past two seasons and earned a ‘B’ rating from USFA. Her biggest strength on the strip? The ability to let things go.
Said Daly: “When she made a mistake, she grew into the understanding that one touch doesn’t make a bout, one bout doesn’t make a round, one round doesn’t make a tournament and one tournament doesn’t make a fencer.”
Claire Becchina, Ward Melville, Soph.
Becchina went 37-1 in the regular season and took her second straight Suffolk foil title. She also won the penultimate bout in the Long Island championship to give the Patriots their 17th championship in 18 years.
Olivia Becchina, Ward Melville, Soph.
Becchina went 36-0 in the regular season and won the Suffolk epee title.
Mandy Li, Great Neck South, Soph.
Li, Newsday's Fencer of the Year last season, went 19-0 in the regular season, took her second gold medal at Brentwood and won the Nassau title in foil. She also helped led the Rebels to their second straight county championship.
Jovana Lau, Herricks, Soph.
Lau lost just twice in dual meets before rolling through the field in the Nassau championship to take the title in sabre.
Rachel Kowalsky, Oyster Bay, Jr.
Kowalsky went 20-0 in the regular season and took her second straight Nassau title in epee.
Coach of the Year: Ethan Wivietsky, Ward Melville
With only four seniors, first-year coach Wivietsky helped guide a youthful Patriots squad to an undefeated season and their 17th Long Island title.