Vipers Finish Third in the City After Fifteenth Straight Undefeated Regular Season

A particularly close-knit Vipers team heads into the playoffs riding a good home win and another undefeated regular season record.

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The sixth floor dance studio was alive with anticipation. Junior Jane Rhee stood ready, sizing up her opponent. At the referee’s word, she immediately took control of the bout, dictating the flow of the first few touches. Suddenly, after a relatively long standoff, with both sides defending well, Rhee sprung forward and extended her arm, catching her opponent's side with her épée. The Vipers, Stuyvesant’s girls’ varsity fencing team, erupted into cheers and applause on the sideline as Rhee halted to a stop about three feet away from the strip

In their final home game of the regular season, the Vipers defeated the Long Island City Bulldogs 90-34, a significant improvement from the first time they faced LIC when they won 90-48. The win maintained the team’s top spot in division 2 with a perfect 7-0 record. The atmosphere in the small dance studio was one of pride and camaraderie. Even in familiar territory, winning by a substantial margin, the Vipers maintained their enthusiasm and never took points for granted. Each and every girl received personalized and animated encouragement from her teammates.

This atmosphere was clearly crucial to the team’s success. In some cases, as with sophomore Charlotte Siragusa, senior and co-captain Katherine Huang, and freshman Alice Liu, the encouragement gave them the confidence and focus to donut their opponents, a flawless bout. Perhaps more significantly, this encouragement gave juniors Rachel Lee and Katherine Filosa the fuel to overcome a couple rough stretches. Lee, who opened the match, started off strong but began to fall behind against the opposition’s strongest fencer. However, with the unconditional encouragement of her teammates, she was able to come back, ultimately ending the bout with a score of 5-4 in her favor.

Filosa’s adept evasion but conservative approach offensively led to a particularly long bout. Her opponent began to get comfortable, control the flow of the bout, and get a few quick, consecutive touches on Filosa. Seeing their flustered teammate, the rest of the Vipers shouted words of approval as Coach Joel Winston advised Filosa after evaluating the issue. Immediately, Filosa started following her defense with counter-attacks, taking chances. Despite giving up six touches before getting her five, she ended the bout strong.

As successful as this year’s team has been, this is nothing new for Stuyvesant girls’ fencing. The Vipers have gone undefeated for more than fifteen consecutive seasons. At this season’s playoff game, the starting épée team was made up of senior and co-captain Sage Demopoulos, senior Taylor Kwok, juniors Clare McGillis, Anna Lanzman, and Rhee, while Hwang, senior Michela Marchini, and freshmen Palak Srivastava and Liu led the foil team. The team enjoyed a bye in their first round and went on to defeat Francis Lewis High School before losing two close matches to the Bronx High School of Science in foil and Hunter College High School in épée, ultimately finishing third in the city.

Despite final results, the palpable camaraderie that was so present in the sixth floor dance studio right before the playoff game was equally present in Demopoulos’s description of what made this year’s team special. The team has “become my second family,” Demopoulos said. “All our inside jokes and constant laughter […] just [go] to show how close-knit we’ve become.”