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U.S. Women's Saber Team Ends Season with Gold at Korfanty Cup

06/25/2012, 4:48am CDT
By No Author

(Chicago, Ill.) – The U.S. Women’s Saber Team ended the World Cup season with its second straight World Cup title on Sunday at the Korfanty Cup in Chicago.

Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.), Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.), Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) and Skyla Powers (Decatur, Ga.) finished the tournament with three match wins over Azerbaijan, China and Italy to earn the gold.

In a rematch of Team USA’s bronze medal bout at the 2011 Senior Worlds, Team USA faced Azerbaijan in the quarter-finals.

Led by Sabina Mikina, a top-eight finisher in the individual event at the 2011 Senior Worlds, Azerbaijan was up, 28-25, after the fifth bout, but Wozniak outscored Mikina, 7-3, in the sixth to give Team USA a 30-28 lead. Muhammad and Wozniak outscored Aida Alasgarova and Sevil Bunyatova in the next two bouts to move the score to 40-33. Zagunis was subbed in as the anchor for Powers and she closed out the match, 45-37, for Team USA.

“It just didn’t go as we planned, but, every time you go out there, even if you’re down, 40-20, you’ve gotta fight until you’re back on top – even if it’s by one point because sometimes that gives you the mental edge and puts pressure on the other team. I think that, even though we were down, we still have to stay positive, stay focused and stay in fighting mode,” Wozniak said.

After China upset Ukraine in the other quarter-final, Team USA was down, 15-12, against China in the semifinals, when Wozniak was subbed in for the fourth bout. Wozniak outscored Fei Li, 8-3, to give Team USA a lead they never relinquished.

Up 40-38 going into the final bout, Zagunis faced Min Zhu who she defeated in the individual event on Saturday.

Zagunis shut out Zhu, 5-0, to win the bout for Team USA, 45-38.

In the gold medal final, all four athletes returned to the strip and the Americans led Italy for seven of nine bouts to take the win, 45-35.

“It felt good to end on a high note and to win the past two World Cups with really strong showings. It was nice to finish with a gold and a silver in the individual and I’m proud of how everyone fenced today,” Zagunis said.

Wozniak, who will fence with Zagunis in London, expressed happiness both that Team USA won the bout as well as for a much-needed competition break between now and the Games.

“I think we fenced really well as a team despite the fact that we’re mentally exhausted, physically exhausted. We just want to be in one place, go home and have a chance to really prepare for the Olympics … hopefully we’ll be able to take a couple days off before getting back into it. I’m just really happy that the last competition is over. And really over. Completely over. Like tomorrow I’m outta here over,” laughed Wozniak who has traveled to international events on a nearly bi-weekly basis since February.

The U.S. Men’s Team fell short of qualifying for the medal rounds after a 45-41 loss to France in the table of 16. London nominees Daryl Homer (New York City, N.Y.), Tim Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.), James Williams (New York City, N.Y.) and Jeff Spear (Wyantskill, N.Y.) defeated Hong Kong, 45-22, in the match and won the ninth-place match over Canada, 45-26.

Women’s Team Korfanty Cup
1. USA
2. Italy
3. China
4. Russia
5. France
6. Azerbaijan
7. Poland
8. Ukraine

Men’s Team Korfanty Cup
1. Romania
2. Belarus
3. France
4. Russia
5. Germany
6. Italy
7. Korea
8. China

9. USA

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