Freshman Mandy Li faced a familiar but unexpected opponent in the second bout of Saturday afternoon’s Nassau girls team fencing championship at Garden City.
Down 2-0 and 4-3, Li had to collect herself to overcome the deficits and win, 5-4. She went 2-0 in foil as part of Great Neck South’s 14-6 win over Jericho, the defending champion.
Great Neck South (16-0) last won a county title in 2017.
“My second bout was really, really close,” Li said. “I was really scared because this is my first 5-4 bout in the whole year.”
The Rebels led 6-0 before Jericho rattled off three straight epee wins by Julia Lina, Anna Lin and Ariel Kim, but the Rebels recovered with sabre wins by Gina Lee, Mary Ye and Grace Chou. The clinching point also was won by Chou in a 5-3 victory.
Ye, a senior, said the goal from the first day of the season was to win a championship.
“We have a board where we write down our goals, and our goals were to go undefeated and be county champs,” she said. “It feels so good. Last year, we were devastated because we won the year before and thought we could win again.”
Great Neck South defeated Garden City, 14-1, in a semifinal Saturday morning. Great Neck North, which lost to Jericho in a semifinal, bested Garden City in the consolation match, 14-8.
Great Neck South boys win, too
Up against the ropes with Jericho quickly closing the gap, the Great Neck South Nassau boys fencing team leaned on its foil trio of Gabe Magidson, Kevin Zhang and David Wang to stop the comeback.
They did more than just hold Jericho back. They finished the Jayhawks off for a 14-10 win and the team’s first county championship since it went back-to-back in 2013-14.
The Rebels (15-0) led 11-8 before Jericho’s Jonathan Sheng and Jacob Khim earned wins at sabre, cutting Great Neck South’s lead to 11-10.
Magidson broke the losing streak with a 5-1 win. Zhang then earned a 5-2 win. It was up to Wang, who started fast with a 4-0 lead before earning the final touch in a 5-1 win.
Zhang said he was relaxed watching Wang.
“We know he can pull through,” he said. “We know he’s capable. He knows what he’s doing as well. If he loses a point, it’s fine.”
Magidson was confident but not as comfortable.
“I’m not chill like Kevin, so I get really tense,” he said. “It was really nerve-wracking for me.”
The foil team went 9-0 in the championship match.
“This is my first year starting, and I think it’s really exciting to be county champs in my first year,” Magidson said. “I can’t wait for next year’s season.”