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Ward Melville girls still setting the standard in fencing

Ward Melville's Ilana Solomon competes in the Suffolk

Ward Melville's Ilana Solomon competes in the Suffolk fencing championships at Brentwood. (Feb. 8, 2014) Credit: Richard T. Slattery

There are a number of superlatives you could use when talking about Ward Melville girls fencing, but really, the numbers speak for themselves.

Since 2000, the Patriots have produced 19 individual county championships while posting a 190-0 record. They've also won all 12 team Long Island titles since the team championships were introduced in 2003.

With an experienced and talented team, there is a good chance Ward Melville adds to these tallies this season.

Seniors Carly Weber-Levine and Ilana Solomon form a strong sabre duo, as both are ranked in the top 52 nationally in the under-17 age group. Weber-Levine earned an "A" rating from the United States Fencing Association in July after winning gold in women's sabre at the USFA National Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

Angela Zhang, who won a Suffolk county individual title in 2012, returns to lead a deep foil unit that also includes sophomore Lara Obedin, and sophomore Arianna Ferretti will be Ward Melville's top epee fencer.

First-year coach Alyssa Lombardi is well aware of the Patriots' legacy, having fenced at Ward Melville from 2002-07.

"It's very exciting for me since I went through the whole Ward Melville experience. I've never experienced a loss," Lombardi said. "We're looking to work hard together, stay strong and hopefully come through with some wins."

The numbers say that's probably a safe bet.

The Patriots' main challenger in Suffolk looks to be Commack once again. Epeeist Chantel Yang, one of the top fencers on Long Island, leads the Cougars, who finished second in the county last season. Yang, a two-time individual county champion and "A" rated fencer, joins Samantha Abbott and Erin O'Neill to form arguably the Island's best epee trio.

Gabby Musto and Nicole Michaels lead the Commack sabre and foil groups, respectively.

Elsewhere in Suffolk, Brentwood returns county foil champion Athena Grauer, Half Hollow Hills returns starters Tiffany Kim, Sabrina Kim and Sarah Im, and two-time Brentwood Holiday Tournament champion Alex Alpy leads Whitman.

In Nassau, Great Neck South will be one of the teams to beat. Vera Lin established herself as one of the better epee fencers on Long Island, going 28-1 last season en route to an individual county championship. Sophomore Macy Meng, who went 26-5 last season, joins Lin in epee.

Two-time defending county champion Garden City will also be in the mix, returning Bridget Strysko and Dessie DiMino in epee and Emily Fallon and Katherine Tomasi in foil.

Jericho features Winnie Luk and Michelle Rangel in sabre, and Elizabeth John and Stephanie Chen in epee.

Other contenders include Oyster Bay, with a foil unit led by Christina Masiakos and Nathalie Mejia, and Valley Stream District, led by defending county foil champion Sabrina Decopain.

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