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U.S. Women Win Bronze at the New York Saber World Cup

06/27/2011, 3:28am CDT
By No Author

(New York City, N.Y.) – The U.S. Women’s Saber Team won bronze in front of a hometown crowd on Sunday at the New York World Cup at the New York Athletic Club.

The team of Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.), Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.), Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) and Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.) entered the tournament as the event’s fourth seed and the squad earned a quick opening win against Singapore, 45-11.

In the quarter-finals, Team USA led Spain for nearly the entire match before Wozniak anchored Team USA to a 45-26 victory.

Led by two-time Senior World medalist Sophia Velikaia, Russia took control against the Americans early in the semifinal and never relented. Team USA was unable to make up ground and lost the match, 45-33.

With the bronze medal on the line, Team USA was set to take on the team from Ukraine – the reigning Olympic Champions.

Zagunis set the tone when she took a 5-0 lead in the first bout and Wozniak held onto the five-point spread in the second with a score of 10-5. The two squads battled for the remainder of the bouts with Ukraine taking the lead after the seventh bout, 35-32.

Zagunis scored seven touches in the bout to close the gap to a single touch.

In the final bout, Wozniak anchored Team USA against two-time World silver medalist Olga Kharlan who defeated Wozniak, 15-14, in the table of 16, during the individual competition on Saturday. Wozniak had anchored the earlier bouts in place of Zagunis who traditionally holds the role.

“I’ve anchored before, but never against really strong teams. This was my first time and I really enjoyed it and I’m glad the coach had enough faith in me to put me in that position,” Wozniak said.

Although Wozniak is the youngest member of the team, she kept her composure and outscored Kharlan by six touches to two to win the bout, 45-42.

“Actually, Mariel told me to walk away when we went into the third cycle and she and Daria were going to be up because sometimes you get so into cheering for your teammates that it’s like you’re actually going through every touch with them and that can be really tiring,” Wozniak said. “When I got out there I didn’t know if we were down or up or what the score was. I just went out there 0-0 and went for it. I joked later on that I got even for yesterday, but, really, it’s a whole different thing. I could say ‘I wish I could have done that yesterday,’ but you can’t think like that.”

Wozniak said she enjoyed her first anchoring experience against top competitors and was thankful for being given the opportunity to step up for her team.

“It was satisfying to know that you did a good job and the coach sees it. Yes, Mariel has the most achievements, but I also want her to feel like she can rely on us, too,” Wozniak said. “She wasn’t feeling too great and she asked if I was comfortable and I said ‘If you’re willing to give me the chance, I’m up for it. I think it’s good to kind of mix things up a bit and we know if it’s a possibility or not. I think it also puts pressure on the other teams because they know that whoever anchors is gonna be tough.”

Top eight results from the team event are as follows:

New York Saber Team World Cup
1. Russia
2. China
3. USA
4. Ukraine
5. Italy
6. Korea
7. Poland
8. Spain

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