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The Morgan co-ed fencing program had a strong year that featured some quality postseason performances. At the Team State Championships, the Huskies’ girls’ saber team came in second place. Pictured are Head Coach James Barnett, Angela Recine, Olivia Morrissey, Bea Atengco, Isabella Recine, and assistant Jim Harris. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
The Huskies’ girls’ épée squad claimed third place at the Team State Championships this season. Pictured are Head Coach James Barnett, assistant coach Jim Harris, Aadilah Bajwa, Jennifer Accetta, Lilly Morrissey, Lily Kozak, and former coach Colleen Mason. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Scott Accetta fenced épée while leading Morgan alongside fellow captains Rebecca Arribas Cockley and Olivia Morrissey this year. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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The Morgan co-ed fencing program turned in a great year that culminated with an impressive showing at the Team State Championships this winter. Morgan’s girls’ team finished with a record of 17-3 during the regular season, while the boys also notched a winning record by going 12-10. Three of the Huskies’ six teams advanced to the Team State Championships, where the girls’ saber squad earned second place, the girls’ épée team took third place, and the boys’ saber team finished in fifth.
Head Coach James Barnett felt that both of his squads had excellent campaigns. The girls’ team only lost three matches all year, and those came against Guilford, which went on to win the state title.
“I thought they had an incredible year. They really worked well together and supported each other. They were there for each other. They were really focused throughout the season. They won all the matches that they should have,” Coach Barnett said. “They only lost three matches against Guilford. I coached Guilford for a long time, so I know the tradition that they have. It’s hard to beat them. Going into those matches, they never gave up, and it was great to see their determination.”
The boys’ team improved upon last season’s win total by earning four more victories. Coach Barnett was pleased to see how far the Huskies have come in just one year’s time.
“The guys had a much better year than last year. They were very focused and worked very hard,” said Barnett. “The competition was stiff during the season, but I never really had to worry about them losing focus.”
The saber teams were the Huskies’ strongest throughout the season. The girls’ saber team claimed second place at states, led by the group of Olivia Morrissey, Bea Atengco, Angela Recine, Isabella Recine, and Ella Franzoni. As the No. 2 seed, Morgan had a first-round bye, posted a 5-0 shutout over Hand in the semis, and then took a 5-4 loss to Guilford in the final.
“I think they did really well, taking it 4-4 into the final bout. They took Guilford as far as they could,” said Barnett, whose assistant coach is Jim Harris. “Knowing the Guilford team and tradition, it’s amazing they got that far. I’m really happy with their performance, and I believe they are also.”
The boys’ saber squad of Noah Scarpace, Alex Rauccio, Will Riccio, and Logan Cummings came in fifth place at states. Morgan had the No. 5 seed and took a 5-2 loss against Brunswick in its opening match. The Huskies defeated Greenwich by a 5-1 score in their next contest and then notched a 5-3 victory versus Fairfield to finish in fifth.
“They had a really tough first round up against some nationally rated fencers,” Coach Barnett said. “It was a bad draw for us, but they followed it up by beating two good schools. They didn’t let down after that loss.”
Also making some waves at the Team State Championships was the girls’ épée team of Jennifer Accetta, Aadilah Bajwa, Lily Kozak, and Lilly Morrissey. The quartet earned the No. 2 seed and beat Greenwich in the first round by a 5-3 decision. Morgan took a 5-4 defeat against Fitch in semifinals, but came back to defeat Guilford 5-3 in the third-place bout.
“Women’s épée was a close one against Fitch,” said Barnett. “With both teams, that was the way they worked all season long. There may be a tough first round, but they never gave up.”
Coach Barnett believed that the leadership of his senior captains—Rebecca Arribas Cockley, Olivia Morrissey, and Scott Accetta—had a heavy hand in keeping Huskies focused and working so well together throughout the campaign.
“Each one fences a different weapon and was in charge of their own squads. They all were on the same page the whole season. Anybody could approach them no matter what,” Barnett said. “As far as captains, they were great to have. They knew exactly what Coach Harris and I wanted. They supported us, and we supported them. It was a great pleasure.”
One of Morgan’s biggest matches came early in the season, when the Huskies hosted an invitational that included some of the best teams in the state. Coach Barnett’s club held its own, and he was impressed by the effort he saw from his fencers.
“I think the big one for us was our Morgan Invitational. We invited Hopkins, Guilford, Hand, and Greenwich. Those are the top teams in the state,” Barnett said. “In our first rounds, the épée and foil teams were having a tough time. We had a long talk with both squads. They really turned it around at that point for the rest of the season. It was relatively early in the season. That’s when we saw that this team was going to have a really good season.”
A handful of Huskies took home some hardware as a result of their performances this year. Kozak finished in second place for épée at the Individual State Championship, earning All-State First Team honors. Jennifer Accetta took seventh place and garnered All-State Second Team honors.
For Morgan’s team awards, Arribas Cockey, who finished with a record of 46-24, was named the Most Valuable Player for the girls’ team. Scarpace, who went 48-13, took home MVP honors for boys. Emmy O’Neil won the Rookie of the Year Award for Morgan. The Most Improved Award went to Bea Atengco (41-9) in saber, Kozak (57-20) for épée, and Lucas Morello in foil. The Coach’s Award was presented to Matt Zoner for épée, Olivia Morrissey (41-15) in saber, and Caleb Adams-Hull in foil.
Morgan’s varsity roster also included the girls’ foil squad of Arribas Cockley, Rachel Flanagan, Alexandra Wolf, and Kaitlyn Tunney; the boys’ foil team of Adam-Hull, Thomas Baker, Lucas Morello, and Matt Albert; and the boys’ épée team of Scott Accetta, Dan Radka, Matt Zoner, and Andrew Daly.
As for the Huskies’ future, the 2019-’20 season will be an opportunity to bring new fencers into the program. Morgan is graduating 15 seniors, and many of them were impact fencers.
“Next year is going to be a bit of a rebuilding year. We’re going to be saying good-bye to 15 people,” Coach Barnett said. “We’re going to have a very young team next year, so there will be a lot of opportunity for people to take some starting spots. We have a lot of really good young fencers. Our freshman class was great this year. We’re excited about developing a new varsity squad.”
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