In her first bout of the Long Island Girls Fencing Championship Tuesday, Ward Melville senior Demi Antipas found herself in unfamiliar territory: trailing. She had come into the meet without a loss in her four-year career.
Antipas was facing fellow All-Long Island foil Saanchi Kukadia of Manhasset. The seventh-grader took a quick 2-0 lead over the veteran, then Ward Melville coach Jennie Salmon took Antipas aside to give her some advice.
"She needed to be patient," Salmon said. "I just wanted to keep her calm and focused on the moment."
Antipas came back to win the bout, 5-4. Afterward, she sat by herself, focused on doing better in her next bout. She ended up winning, 5-0, to give her a 2-0 record on the day and help lead Ward Melville to a 14-5 win and its 10th straight Long Island championship.
"It's always a relief to have such a great season behind us," Salmon said. "I'm incredibly proud of my team. Every year, we have new girls who have to step up and they certainly rose to the occasion."
The victory gives Ward Melville 159 straight wins in the past 11 years, which is the third-longest winning streak in Long Island sports history.
Going into the season with high expectations, Salmon said she wanted her team to take it one meet at a time.
"I don't like to look far ahead," Salmon said. "It's about how hard we train on a daily basis and how we execute at any given moment."
But her team did feel the pressure of continuing the winning streak.
"We definitely have a reputation to uphold," said sabre Kacy Charpin, who won the meet-clinching bout. "It's refreshing that every year we could complete the task that we set out to do."