The stretch of dominance by the Ward Melville girls fencing team is no secret. The team has 15 undefeated seasons in 17 years, including last season.
So if there is a team that can survive the graduation of two All-Long Island fencers, including the Fencer of the Year, it’s the Patriots.
Ivanna Zavala-Arbelaez, the Patriots’ only returning All-Long Island selection, will headline a deep foil squad with Sandie O'Brien and Claire Becchina, a freshman who placed eighth in the Brentwood Holiday Tournament last season. Becchina's twin sister, Olivia, takes over at epee for last season’s Fencer of the Year, Julia Duffy. In sabre, the Patriots lose All-Long Island selection Bridget Becchina to the college ranks, but senior Lauren Cappello finished sixth at the county individual championships last season.
Elsewhere in Suffolk, Maddie Wagner returns for Sayville, and Catherine Kim, Nicole Nicou and Valerie Slackman lead an experienced and well-rounded Commack team.
In Nassau, Jericho will look to repeat as county champions for the first time in school history. The Jayhawks return Anna Lin, the epee individual champion and a 2018 All-Long Island selection, and her sister, Julia, who went 30-1 last year in epee as a freshman.
Cold Spring Harbor returns the Shen twins, Sophia and Annabel, who finished last season as the individual foil champion and runner-up, respectively. Great Neck South once again will be competitive as they return sabrist Mary Ye.
Fencers to watch
Lauren Cappello, Ward Melville, Sr.: The sabrist placed fifth at the 2017 Brentwood Holiday Tournament and sixth in the Suffolk individual championships.
Anna Lin, Jericho, Sr.: An All-Long Island selection as a junior, she went 31-4 and won the Nassau individual epee championship.
Julia Lin, Jericho, Soph.: Went 30-1 in epee as a freshman.
Sophia Shen, Cold Spring Harbor, Fr.: She went 31-2 in dual meets and won the Nassau individual foil championship.
Madelyn Wagner, Sayville, Sr: She placed sixth at the Brentwood Holiday Tournament in sabre and finished third in the Suffolk individual championships.
Ivanna Zavala-Arbelaez, Ward Melville, Sr.: An All-Long Island selection as a junior, she won the Suffolk individual foil championship and went 31-4 in dual meets.