Great Neck South girls fencers claimed two titles Saturday, as senior Mary Ye won in sabre and freshman sensation Mandy Li won in foil to steal the show at the Nassau individual championships at Great Neck North. Oyster Bay sophomore Rachel Kowalsky took the title in epee.
Ye finished in dramatic fashion with a comeback victory over Oyster Bay’s Bella Rosenthal. Down 8-5, Ye took the next seven touches eventually won, 15-13, to earn her first championship in a stellar career. It was a “culmination of her past four years,” Great Neck South coach Catie Sagevick said.
“Ever year she gets closer and closer to this, and this year she told me was going to go further . . . She knew she had to leave it all out on the strip for her senior year,” Sagevick said. “It’s great to see her achieve her goal.”
Li earned a 15-12 win over fellow freshman standout Sophia Shen of Cold Spring Harbor. It was punctuation on a freshman season in which Li won the Brentwood Holiday Tournament and was 28-0 in dual meets. But her final bout also was personal.
Li was ineligible to play varsity last season when Shen and her twin sister, Annabel, dueled in the county final. They inspired Li to get serious about fencing.
“I wasn’t as good as them last year, so I started practicing a lot more and paying more attention to fencing,” Li said. “I knew I would have to fence them every year if I wanted to win.”
After point-trading for much of the bout, Shen sneaked in a touch for a tie at 12. But Li took the next point to regain the lead and went on defense to seal the win.
“I knew that if I attack, I’d lose points,” Li said. “So, I just stayed in the back once I got the lead and counter-attacked.”
Kowalsky defeated Jericho’s Anna Lin, 15-7, in the epee final. The lefty got her revenge after falling to Lin in a dual meet earlier this season.
“It’s always back-and-forth with us,” Kowalsky said. “I was rushing at first, but I eventually calmed down and stuck with what I know I can do.”