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Irish head to New York for weekend tournament

Matt Mooney | Friday, January 23, 2004

With brisk arctic winds freezing South Bend and most of the Northeast, the Notre Dame fencing team looks to continue thawing out their competition with its red-hot play this weekend. The team heads to New York University for Sunday’s NYU Dual Meet, where they will face off against hometown NYU as well as St. John’s, Stanford, Columbia, and Yale. St. John’s will likely prove the most formidable of the group, as they placed third behind Notre Dame and Penn State at last year’s national championships.One of the biggest tasks of last semester was trying to integrate three new freshmen into the lineup. The freshman saber tandem of Valerie Providenza and Angela Vincent has stepped in nicely, complemented by classmate and epeeist Amy Orlando. Now, with a semester of collegiate bouts under their belts, the freshmen will be expected to augment their contributions with their newfound experience. After emerging victorious from last semester’s down-to-the-wire dual meet against archrival Penn State, the freshmen feel as though they have a newfound confidence. Providenza carved through the Penn State fencers, posting a 3-0 record at the meet.”I was just happy to help my team out,” she said. “I really want to win this year and I just try to motivate myself to do well.”If the women are hot, then the men are a raging inferno. With their corresponding victory over the Nittany Lions, the men’s team extended their winning streak to 87 consecutive dual matches. However, maintaining that streak will prove a tough chore, especially against the likes of the Red Storm. Junior epeeist Michal Sobieraj is unfazed. “[The streak] is very nice but I don’t think about it while I’m fencing,” he said. “I just try to keep on winning.”In order for the men’s team to keep on winning, its bumper crop of freshmen will have to sustain the maturity they displayed in the fall semester. Four rookies have already had to step into the starting lineup. Sabers Patrick Ghattas and Matthew Stearns are joined by foilist Frankie Bontempo and epeeist Aaron Adjemian as representatives of their class. “They’re good,” Sobeiraj said. “They’ll [eventually] become veterans and they’re getting better all the time.”Some of the fencers on both sides kept their dueling skills sharp by participating in individual tournaments over winter break. At the North American Cup in California, the Irish were well represented as junior foilist Andrea Ament finished third in her division followed up by senior Kerry Walton’s fifth place at epee. The freshmen continued to shine as three more, Providenza, Orlando, and Ghattas, posted top ten finishes in their particular tournaments.