Aquinas Academy fending team prepares to push toward postseason

Sunday, February 4, 2018 | 11:00 PM

After winning four of its first five matches, the Aquinas Academy fencing team faced one of its most difficult challenges of the season when it opposed Peters Township and Central Catholic on Friday night.

The Crusaders dropped their opening match against Peters Township, 6-3, losing three bouts by one point. But coach John Carroll's team rallied to beat the Vikings in another closely fought match, 6-3.

“It was a fun evening,” Carroll said. “Peters is a very strong team, but we had very close bouts with them. Those three bouts with the one-point margins, those three could have flipped the other way, and we would have won 6-3.

“I think that's what makes me most proud of them. Despite losing a heartbreaker, they had the will and determination to refocus, keep a winning attitude and take on Central Catholic. When you come back and beat a strong team like Central, I think that says something about their intestinal fortitude.”

Team captain Harry Hardman has helped to lead the Crusaders, going 21-0 in individual bouts. Carroll said juniors Louie D'Angelo and Anthony Buck and sophomore Nate Jernigan also are having strong seasons.

The crucial victory over Central Catholic moved the Crusaders' record to 5-2 as teams continue to jostle for a spot in the playoffs with the regular season winding down.

The Crusaders have matches against Pine-Richland and Allderdice before playoffs start March 2. Carroll said he expects those to be two of the toughest matches of the season.

“I am confident that we're going to get into the playoffs,” he said. “But I don't want to be overconfident because I know the last two teams we're playing, and they are both coached extremely well.

“They have kids that can fence, but so do we, so I know that there's going to be some tough and exciting matches coming up ahead of us.”

Aquinas Academy will host Pine-Richland on Feb. 23 at Rhodora Gymnasium.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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