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Jericho ends Ward Melville’s reign in boys fencing

The Jayhawks win the LI boys title and end the Patriots’ 172-match winning streak, while the Ward Melville girls beat Jericho for the LI championship.

Jericho's Bennett Cohen talks about his team's performance after defeating Ward Melville to win the Long Island championship on Tuesday Feb. 6, 2018. It was Ward Melville's first fencing loss in 173 matches. (Credit: Newsday / Gene Morris)

The energy in the gym slowly rose as the match went on.

The host Jericho boys fencing team got off to a fast start, held solid in the middle and finished strongly to defeat Ward Melville, 14-6, and capture the Long Island boys fencing championship Tuesday night.

The loss ended Ward Melville’s 10-year reign as Long Island champions and stopped a 172-match winning streak.

“We were very strong everywhere this year,” Jericho’s Jonathan Sheng said. “As we went through the season and went on a run I was very confident.”

Sheng went 3-0 at sabre and secured the final touch that brought his team to a frenzy.

“I had an early lead but I let it get to 4-4,” Sheng said. “I called time to just think and find myself and I just went for what I always go for.”

The Jayhawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Patriots got it back to 4-2. That’s when the Jericho epee team of Bennett Cohen, Kyle Peters and Yiyi Liu, who each went 2-0, made their mark by winning three consecutive matches.

“We were completely confident that we would win today,” Cohen said. “We had a team we knew could beat anybody. They are a team that everyone in Nassau has wanted to beat for years. We knew we were going to be the ones to take down the titans.”

Cohen, who has been on the team since seventh grade, also captured the Nassau epee championship last week.

“All these years on this team are finally coming to an end,” Cohen said. “What better ending could I ask for?”

The Ward Melville girls team capped their undefeated season with a 14-7 win over Jericho.

It was more of the same for the Patriots, who won the Suffolk championship in convincing fashion and had Suffolk champions at all three disciplines at the individual tournament.

Lauren Cappello won the final bout to clinch the match on the way to going 3-0 at sabre.

“It’s very exciting and important for us,” Cappello said. “We’ve been winning very consistently and it really lifts our spirits as we go on to next season.”

It’s the second straight Long Island title for Ward Melville and the 15th in 16 years.

“It really comes down to our coaching and our dedication,” Cappello said. “It sets a good example for our younger girls who will have someone to look up to.”

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