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Familiarity helps CSH’s Sophia Shen defeat her sister Annabel

Jericho's Gloria Cheng, left, lost 15-10 in the

Jericho's Gloria Cheng, left, lost 15-10 in the quarterfinals to eventual Nassau foil champ Sophia Shen of Cold Spring Harbor. Credit: Enrique C. Mendez

There was plenty of familiarity between the finalists at Saturday’s Nassau Individual fencing championships at Great Neck South.

All three boys finals consisted of teammates trying to figure out opponents they had been training with all season and the girls foil final featured a pair that has spent their entire lives together.

Eighth graders Sophia and Annabel Shen, twins from Cold Spring Harbor, had a spirited back-and-forth bout that ended when Sophia secured the final touch to win 15-13.

“It was insane,” Sophia said. “We always practice against each other, we’ve fenced against each other before and there was really no way of knowing who was going to win.”

Annabel jumped out to a 9-7 lead but Sophia was able to tie it at 12 before getting three of the final four touches for the win.

“I know Annabel is usually defensive but she changed a lot today and was attacking,” Sophia said. “I just tried to react on the spot and think and it makes your mind work hard.”

The Jericho fencing team was also working hard, as they had four boys finalists, including epee champion Bennett Cohen, sabre champion Jonathan Sheng, as well as girls epee winner Anna Lin.

“It was really tough and I actually fenced another teammate in the semis,” Sheng, who defeated teammate Matthew Gavieta, 15-13 in the final, said. “They’re both really good fencers but I guess today was just my day. I just tried to clear my mind and do what I do best and see if it worked.”

Cohen, a senior who also won a county title as a freshman and is now a four-time finalist, was content to end his career with a win after defeating teammate Yiyi Liu, 15-8.

“I was just so happy we got a Jericho final in epee and sabre,” Cohen said.

Lin, who won 15-7 over Emma Young of Great Neck North, bounced back from a loss in last year’s final.

“I’m a strong believer in working hard to reach your goal,” Lin said. “Hard work and dedication is really important.”

Early in the day Garden City’s Philip Acinapuro won his second consecutive boys foil championship, 15-6, over teammate Zach Ortiz.

“Zach usually beats me in practice but I’ve been trying some new stuff that seems to work against him,” Acinapuro said.

The pair will also be teammates at next month’s junior Olympics event in Memphis.

Shannon Sarker of Great Neck North also repeated as champion when she defeated Great Neck South’s Michelle Song, 15-8, in the girls sabre final.

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