Sometimes, one has to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. That’s exactly what happened to Leif Dalberg on Wednesday afternoon.
The Miller Place senior fencer fell behind by two points in his final bout of the day with a chance to win a Suffolk boys team championship on his foil for the visiting team of Newfield/Miller Place.
"Sometimes I have a tendency -- under pressure -- to dig myself into a hole," he said, "and then perform better in the latter half of the bout."
That’s exactly what he did. Dalberg rallied and scored four of the final five points of his bout to give his team a 14-10 victory and the Suffolk crown against Sayville/Bayport-Blue Point/Connetquot.
The last time a Newfield team won a Suffolk boys fencing title was 2003. Guess who was a junior captain on that team? Newfield coach Kyle Schirmer.
"We’ve been building for this for so many years," said the 11th-year coach, who graduated from Newfield in 2004. "We’d always get close, only to see someone else win."
Schirmer had to be reminded his teams finished second in Suffolk championships four times in his tenure. But not on Wednesday.
Dalberg won his final bout, 4-3, to cap a 3-0 afternoon and an remarkable 19-1 season. His only loss (a 4-3 decision) came against Sayville/Bayport-Blue Point/Connetquot (10-1) back on Jan. 16. Newfield/Miller Place (10-1) lost that match, 17-10.
"I had to pay more attention today to the little things in the bout," Dalberg said. "Where my foil tip was, how my fingers were moving. That’s how in-depth the thought process is at that point.
"The attention -- you can literally feel the blood in your fingers. It’s a really visceral feeling, and it was definitely enjoyable to have that rush."
Dalberg enjoyed the rush of watching two of his Newfield senior teammates -- Matthew Hu and Chris Cano -- go 2-0 in epee. Sayville’s Justin Doucet and Aidan Montalbine both went 3-0. But the afternoon belonged to Newfield/Miller Place.
"It’s really great to be part of something like this, because we’ve been so close, so many times," Dalberg said. "It’s great to push through."