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U.S. Women’s Saber Team Wins Silver at the Absolute Fencing Gear® Korfanty World Cup

05/05/2014, 8:00am CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Team USA, Russia and Ukraine on the podium. © K. Dao Photography 2014

Silver medalists Eliza Stone, Dagmara Wozniak, Ibtihaj Muhammad and Mariel Zagunis with Coach Ed Korfanty. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

(Chicago, Ill.) – Fencing in the final World Cup event of the season, the U.S. Women’s Saber Team won a silver medal at the Absolute Fencing Gear® Korfanty World Cup at the University of Illinois at Chicago on Sunday.

With Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.), Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.), Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.) and Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) each playing key roles throughout the day, Team USA showed its depth throughout the event.

Muhammad, a three-time Senior World team medalist, stepped into the anchor role in the table of 16 where she closed out Team USA’s win against Hong Kong, 45-30.

The quarter-finals would be Wozniak’s chance to anchor Team USA against Germany and Wozniak shut out her former St. John’s teammate, Anna Limbach, to finish the match, 45-28.

The Americans fenced Ukraine, the 2013 Senior World Champions, in the semifinals and Wozniak came into the fifth bout with a four-touch deficit at 20-16. She outscored Olena Voronina, 8-5, to put Team USA within one touch.

The next bout would mark a twist on the usual lineup against Ukraine as Zagunis faced off against Olga Kharlan (UKR), the 2013 individual Senior World Champion. While the bout wasn’t in the usual anchor position, the intensity was still high and the two fought for every touch. Ultimately, Kharlan took the final score and Ukraine led the match, 30-28.

Stone split her bout with Voronina to keep the match within two after the seventh bout.

In the eighth, Zagunis made up the gap and gave Team USA a two-touch cushion when she outscored Alina Komashchuk, 7-3, to give Team USA a 40-38 lead.

Wozniak held off a late charge by Kharlan in the anchor bout and Team USA took the win, 45-43.

While Zagunis is best known as Team USA’s anchor, she noted the importance of shaking up the American lineup.

“The most important events for us are the World Championships and the Olympics. So, even though it’s important for us to do well at these World Cups, it’s also important for us to try different patterns and strategies,” Zagunis said. “I’ve been the anchor for many many years now, but Daga has also proved that she can be a strong anchor. It’s nice to test that out every now and then. We beat Ukraine in Turkey when I was anchor and now we beat them here when Daga was anchor, so now we know that that’s going to work both ways. It’s good to know that we can keep people on their toes.”

In the gold medal final, the Americans fenced a Russian team that dominated women’s saber for much of the last quadrennium with gold medal wins at the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Senior World Championships.

Russia’s success continued this season with the team’s only loss on the World Cup circuit coming at the hands of Team USA when Zagunis anchored the Americans to a 45-44 victory over Russia at the Antalya World Cup in March.

Team USA got off to a slow start, but Zagunis’s first bout of the match would be a repeat of the previous night’s individual gold medal final. Fencing Viktoriya Kovaleva for the second time in 24 hours, Zagunis scored nine to give Team USA a 10-9 lead.

The Russians won or tied six of the next seven bouts, however, and Dina Galiakbarova won the anchor leg by a single touch against Zagunis to take the victory for Russia, 45-38.

“Today was strong for us,” Zagunis said. “We came home with a silver. Of course, we wanted gold, but we beat Ukraine back-to-back after we won the last one in Turkey. So that’s helping build our confidence slowly to perform our best on a consistent basis.”

The U.S. Men’s Team earned its fourth top-eight result of the season with a seventh place result.

London Olympian Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.) and his teammates Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.), Ben Igoe (Staten Island, N.Y.) and  Andrew Fischl (Huntington, N.Y.) drew a bye into the table of 16 where the Americans defeated Hong Kong, 45-38.

In the quarter-finals, Team USA faced Korea – the 2012 Olympic Champions.

Although he was the youngest member of the squad, it was three-time Junior World medalist Dershwitz who put up more than half of Team USA’s touches. Dershwitz gave Team USA a 15-14 lead after he outscored 2011 Senior World medalist Bongil Gu, 7-3.

By the eighth bout, however, Dershwitz, Homer and Igoe were struggling with the Koreans who held a 35-20 lead.

Dershwitz picked up 10 touches against Junghwan Kim to cut the deficit to 10 and a score of 40-30.

In the final bout, Homer put up three touches against 2010 Senior World medalist Woo Young Won, but Team USA lost the match, 45-33.

Fencing in the 5th – 8th place table, Homer, Igoe and Dershwitz trailed France, 40-32, after the eighth bout.

Homer won the anchor bout, 8-5, over Nicolas Rousset, but the French team won the match, 45-40.

In the seventh place match against Ukraine, Dershwitz posted a +10 indicator over three bouts. Homer held onto Team USA’s lead and finished the match, 45-42.

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:

Absolute Fencing Gear® Korfanty Women’s Team World Cup
1. Russia
2. USA
3. Ukraine
4. Italy
5. China
6. Germany
7. France
8. Poland

Absolute Fencing Gear® Korfanty Men’s Team World Cup
1. Russia
2. Italy
3. Korea
4. Romania
5. Germany
6. France
7. USA
8. Ukraine

Tag(s): News  Eli Dershwitz  Daryl Homer  Ibtihaj Muhammad  Dagmara Wozniak  Mariel Zagunis  Eliza Stone