MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The Columbia Cougars, known almost as much for the amount of noise they make cheering on their teammates as for being a NJ fencing powerhouse, were in typical form tonight while hosting Governor Livingston in Maplewood.
What was out of the ordinary on this particular night was the way the scene played out - much to the delight of the Highlander boys. There has always been a great deal of rivalry between these two teams throughout the years, and GL found itself on the losing end much of that time. Some of those losses came by way of a heartbreaking mere touch or two on the boys' or girls' sides.
This time, the Cougars' relentless shouts were unable to shake the Highlanders. Right from the start, the two teams kept pace with each other with neither team getting more than two bouts ahead of the other at a time. While the score at the end of the first round favored Columbia at 4-5, the exact opposite was true during the second round with GL tying things up at 9-9.
The lightning-fast blade work and inspired footwork on display tonight made quite a show for the spectators, and things continued to move quickly into the third round. A sense of déjà vu set in as the GL sabres went 1-2 but the foils reversed with two wins and a loss, leaving the score at an incredibly tense 12-12 as the first two epees stepped up to salute on the strip.
GL Sophomore Chen Song kept pace with his opponent right up to 4-4 "La Belle", but the Columbia epeeist managed to eke out the win, leaving it to GL Senior Pierre Arca Sedda to keep the match alive. And keep it alive he did - thrilling spectators by pulling out a win after losing three consecutive touches to his opponent and setting the stage for Senior Devon McLean to decide the meet.
Having had something of an uneven season so far did nothing to dampen McLean's enthusiasm. He easily took the first two touches, and the third came down to a double-touch, making the bout score 3-1. His opponent apparently deciding it was now or never took the next three touches in a row, moving into the lead. Not to be outdone, McLean won the next two touches and gave the Highlander men their first victory over CHS in several years at 14-13.
The Lady Highlanders also fought valiantly, but tonight it was not to be. Although Columbia took the match, 16-11, the GL women very nearly swept the final round (8-1). Epeeist Alice Lee went 2-1 during the meet.
Come support the Highlander Fencers on Super Saturday (1/9) as they play host to Bernards starting at 9:00 a.m. in the Kenneth Stiefel Auditorium at Gov. Livingston High School.