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Patriot Fencing Teams Extend Undefeated Streaks Against Centereach

Boys’ and girls’ varsity fencing defeated Centereach on Monday night.

It's five in a row this season for both Ward Melville fencing teams, with the girls' team defeating Centereach 23-4 and the boys' team winning 16-11 on Monday.

Winning has become somewhat expected for the Patriot fencing program, but there are a few teams that could achieve that kind of normalcy for themselves.  Centereach High School, which finished second in the county in 2010, has had a competitive fencing program for the last 30 years and has been one of the only teams to threaten Ward Melville's success in girls' fencing during recent seasons.

But, as the current winning streak shows, no threat in the past 133 matches has been successful against the Patriots under head coach Jennie Salmon.

"It's a lot of pressure for the girls to stay undefeated, but they work and practice hard enough that they're prepared for each bout," she said.

Ward Melville's top fencers in sabre won all of their matches on Monday. Remaining undefeated so far this season are Alexa Antipas, Laura Barger, and Alexa Rohan, all with the sabre. In the epee, Alexa Perry won both of her matches, and so did Abby Siskidis in the foil.

Another key member of Ward Melville's girls team is Demi Antipas. Fencing with the foil, Demi Antipas, now a junior, hasn't lost a single match in Suffolk County since she's been on varsity as a freshman.

The girls clinched victory with the score at 14-1. After changes in the lineup, the final score was 23-4, putting the Patriots at 5-0 (5-0) and the Cougars 2-3 (3-3).

The Ward Melville boys have won their last four county championships with undefeated seasons under head coach Jeff Salmon, and came into this match with four somewhat close but clear victories. Centereach's boys have been close behind them, with only one loss to Commack.

The Patriots clinched the win at 14-5, and finished the match 16-11 after substitutions. The Patriots are now 5-0 (5-0), and the Cougars are 4-2 (5-2).

Mark Pulaski and Travis Quinn won their bouts in the sabre; Pulaski is undefeated this season and Quinn has only lost once so far. Michael Shaw won his bouts and has only one lost this season in the epee.

The Patriots' winter break wasn't one that most high school students enjoy.  Many of the Patriot fencers were busy in tournaments and the team held fairly regular practices. The Salmons seemed pleased with their fencers' performance and understanding of some early season issues.

"We get to see a lot of our opponents during tournaments and usually twice throughout the regular season, so we know what to look out for and can advise about specific opponents," Jennie Salmon said. "It's all about  the footwork; some people have natural tendencies to be more aggressive or more defensive, but it's important that we build a balance and control the spacing."

The Patriots have two away matches this week.  On Thursday, 1/6, they'll meet Walt Whitman, and on Friday, 1/7, they'll face Half Hollow Hills, whose boys have yet to get a win, but Half Hollow Hills' girls are 4-0 (4-0) and are likely to remain in a top spot all season.

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