Early into the Nassau girls fencing team championship, Great Neck South found itself with all the expectations of an undefeated team plus the reality that it was neck and neck with rival Great Neck North.
Over time, that gave way. Top-seeded South chipped away, going from 8-6 to 12-6 before finally taking the match at 14-7 for the team title at Great Neck South on Saturday. It took some of the perseverance that got the Rebels to this point in the first place.
“I think it was the fact that we trusted each other and we knew in the beginning it would be hard,” said Macy Meng, who went 2-0 in epee. “We knew it was going to be hard. We pulled through and kept pushing.”
When the match was close, Meng said she told her teammates to fence the same way they would any other day and they’d see the results.
“Fencing is sort of like a rubik’s cube,” Meng said. “You never know what the key is and you try various things.”
Mary Ye, who went 1-1 in sabre, was the final competitor to crack the code, landing the final hit and sending the Rebels into jubilation.
“I didn’t win the meet,” Ye said. “We worked together to win the meet.”
While they might be winning the same as they did at the beginning of the year, Ariel Kang said she saw a difference as the season progressed that made Saturday’s victory possible.
“[My teammates] are more responsive,” Kang said. “When we give advice to each other they listen to us and I think overall the fencing has just gotten a lot better.”
South (15-0) won the semifinal 14-9 against Wheatley/Oyster Bay.
They’ll face Ward Melville for the Long Island championship, and while they want to keep the winning going, Meng is just happy to get another chance to compete with her team.
“It’s hard because I’m definitely going to miss these girls and I’m going to miss the support I get from them,” Meng said. “But I know they’ll be going places so I’m not worried.”
On the boys side, top-seeded Garden City topped No. 2 Jericho 14-8 to flip the results of last years final and advance to the Long Island championship.
“We kind of choked against Jericho last year in the finals and I wanted to make sure we had the adrenaline to push through this year,” said Philip Acinapuro, who went 2-0 in foil.
This one went differently as a slow start gave way to a growing gap for the Trojans (13-1). Donal Mahoney lost his first sabre bout, but saw teammate Ryan Connolly get a win against Bennett Cohen, which helped turn it all around.
“That really gave me the energy to go forward,” Mahoney said. “I don’t know if I would’ve won the second bout if that didn’t happen.”
Garden City won its semifinal 14-10 against Great Neck South and had a large crowd for support all day.
All the energizing moments came together at the end.
“It feels great,” Mahoney said.