Fencing beats Ohio State’s top-5 at Elite Invitational ^ North Carolina

PHILADELPHIA – The North Carolina fencing team traveled to this weekend’s Elite Invitational hosted by the University of Pennsylvania. The men’s team ended the weekend with a 1:3 overall balance and the women’s team with 2:2. The Tar Heels took on some of the nation’s best teams on Saturday, with each team fencing four top ten opponents.

The Tar Heels started the weekend with two spectacular victories over Ohio State’s top five. The men’s team won 15:12 against No. 3 in the state of Ohio. sword Xavier Hilbert and saber’s Nicky Wind were the standouts for the heels in this statement win, both going 3-0 in their bouts. Epee and saber both dominated as weapon groups and won 7-2 and 6-3.

The No. 14 women’s team created an uproar of their own in round one, defeating the No. 5 Buckeyes 15-12. Women’s Sabers carried the team to victory, winning their weapons group 7-2. Senior Captain Abigale Parker was the star of the show for the Heels, who went 3-0 in round one.

“We start to believe in it a little bit more every time we go out and compete,” head coach said Matt Jednak. “It’s something we can do, it’s something we are capable of. We will continue to get parts to build and make those advancements.”

In the second round, the Tar Heels met eighth-placed host Penn. The Quakers proved too much for Carolina, outperforming the men 18-9 and the women 16-11. Redshirt student Sophia Kovacs was the bright spot for the heels in defeat, winning all three of their matches.

The Carolina women faced No. 1 Princeton in round three, falling 20-7. The men also fell to Princeton, losing to the No. 5 Tigers 19-8. In the fourth round, the Heels faced Notre Dame in their first ACC match of the season. The men’s team was consistently competitive against the No. 1 in the Fighting Irish rankings, ultimately losing the game 16-11. The men’s sword was able to dominate the reigning national champion and beat them 7:2. Both Eli Lippman and Nathan Paolini were 3-0 against the Fighting Irish.

“(Men’s epee) rely on each other to get in the zone, to get calm and to focus. They’re extremely trainable. They take criticism very well and stay true to their game. They’re willing to not only listen to me, but also their teammates,” said Jednak.

The women’s team was able to achieve their second victory of the day in the final round and defeated UC San Diego with 14:13. Sophia Kovacs and Sophia Molho were the main reasons for the success of the last round of Tar Heels, both leading 3-0. The men’s team fell 19-8 in their last game against 12th-ranked UCSD.

Sophia Kovacs was the player of the weekend for the women’s fencing team, going 9-3 in all of her bouts. Kovacs is improving to 20-10 in doubles this season, the team’s best record. Eli Lippman was the best player on the strip for the men’s team this weekend. The reigning ACC men’s epee champion ended the weekend 8-4.

The Elite Invitational was the final meeting of the fall campaign. The Carolina fencing team will return to action on January 6th at the North American Cup in January.