Throughout a fencing season that was very different because of COVID-19 there remained one constant — Ward Melville winning a championship.
The Ward Melville girls team defeated Half Hollow Hills, 14-10, Wednesday at Hills East to capture their fifth straight Suffolk title and 18th in the last 19 years.
"There were some adjustments but we made them and everybody worked hard and it all worked out," Olivia Becchina said.
Becchina won both of her matches in epee, including a crucial overtime bout, 2-1, late in the match that would have tied the score at nine bouts each.
"I was just trying to stay calm," Becchina said. "It’s easy to get in your head about it but I was just trying to take my time and treat it like any other bout."
Olivia and her sister Claire are no strangers to big moments. Both have won county titles at their respective disciplines in previous years and they’ve played key parts in keeping the Ward Melville (9-2) dynasty rolling.
It was Claire who clinched the match at foil, her third win of the day.
"This was a wonderful experience to be a part of this in my first year coaching," head coach Ginny Siskidis said. "We had a great group of girls that fought hard and are extremely supportive during these times. We couldn’t have asked for a better group."
Ward Melville, the perpetual favorite in Long Island fencing for nearly two decades took a bit of a different route to this year’s title. They entered the playoffs with two losses and won back-to-back road matches against rivals Commack and Hills (9-2).
"It took a great amount of dedication during a season that was so compact and crammed in," assistant coach Jo Anne Siskidis said. "At the beginning of the year, COVID made things a little weird for everybody but they rallied together. We showed up to some meets with five girls and they brought fire every time."
Along with the Becchina sisters Alexa Horan helped lead the way, going 3-0 at sabre. Her final win came in a bout against Hills’ highly rated Olivia Jin.
"Even though things were different and the team was smaller we worked really hard," Olivia Becchina said. "Winning this year feels even better."