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Fencing: Irish ready to compete in NY Duals Saturday

Matt Puglisi | Friday, January 21, 2005

After more than two months of individual competition, including prestigious international tournaments such as the World Cup in November and the North American Cup in both December and January, Notre Dame finally takes to the strips as a team when the Irish travel to the Big Apple to fight in the New York Duals Sunday morning at 8 a.m.In addition to host New York University, Columbia, St. John’s, Yale, Stanford and bitter rival Ohio State are all slated to attend.”It’s going to be a really good tournament,” freshman epee Greg Howard said. “I think our two biggest competitors are Ohio State and St. John’s, but a lot of the other teams like Columbia and Yale aren’t as strong all around, but they have very good individual teams, so that’s going to be tough for us – but I think we’re in good shape.”The match against the Buckeyes will mark the first of three consecutive weeks the top-ranked Notre Dame and Ohio State programs lock horns-the Irish host the Buckeyes next weekend while Ohio State returns the favor a week later.The men’s squad shouldn’t have too much trouble remembering what happened the last time the Irish visited New York last January.Entering the New York Duals on an 87-match regular season winning streak dating back to 2000, then-No. 1 Notre Dame knocked off Yale (21-6), Columbia (14-13) and New York (18-9) before crossing swords with then-No. 4 St. John’s.The Red Storm proved too much for the young and inexperienced Irish, topping Notre Dame 6-3 in all three weapons for an 18-9 victory. The loss halted the Irish winning streak at 90 regular season matches and snapped the third longest streak in the program’s storied history-Notre Dame won 122 consecutive matches from 1975-80 and 98 straight from 1984-88.The women dominated competition last January in their most recent New York Duals appearance, trouncing Yale (21-6), St. John’s (18-9), New York (24-3) and Stanford (24-3) before escaping with a 14-13 nail-bitter against Columbia.Following Sunday’s team season-opening tournament, the Irish return home to host the Notre Dame Duals Jan. 29-30 at the Joyce Center before traveling south to Columbus, Ohio the following weekend to compete in the Ohio State Duals Feb. 5 to kick off a brutal schedule.In addition to fencing the nation’s top squads – many of them on multiple occasions-the Irish won’t have a chance to stop and catch their breath once team competition begins Sunday – Notre Dame will take the strips every week through the beginning of March.