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FENCING: Irish finish with 8-0 record at Ohio Duals

Eric Retter | Monday, February 7, 2005

After this weekend, the Irish can start feeling more comfortable about next year.Both the No. 2 women’s and the No. 4 men’s squads went undefeated at the Ohio State Duals, using mostly backups and younger fencers in competition against a much weaker field than the Irish had grown accustomed to facing in the last few events.Each of Notre Dame’s teams easily rolled to 4-0 records at the event. The men defeated both Purdue and Case Western Reserve by scores of 20-7, while beating Bowling Green 23-4 and Oberlin 26-1. The Irish women were even more dominant, shutting out Oberlin and triumphing over Purdue, Case Western and Bowling Green by respective scores of 24-3, 25-2 and 26-1.Coach Janusz Bednarski was pleased with his team’s overall performance.”It went very well, though it was not a hard tournament,” he said.All-American senior men’s epeeist Michal Soberiaj was one of the few Irish starters seeing regular action this weekend, and he went 12-0 to extend his season record to 55-2, already ninth most wins for an Irish fencer in a season. Sophomore Jesse Laeuchli also went undefeated for the men’s epeeists, compiling a record of 6-0 during the weekend, and the men’s epeeists put up a 33-3 record overall.The men’s sabre team also compiled a strong record, going 32-4 behind 6-0 days from senior John Espinosa and juniors Nicholas Diacou and Alex Schumacher. The men’s foil team also had a strong day but relatively struggled, compiling a record of 24-12.Bednarski saw promise in the performance of his fencers who haven’t been seeing much action this season.”These kids are progressing,” he said. “We’re giving them a chance to improve, and they’re using this chance.”One of the biggest surprises for the women’s team was the freshman foil team of Melanie Bautista and Rachel Cota, who went 8-0 and 9-0, respectively, helping the squad to a 34-2 day.The most impressive performance of the day came from the women’s sabre team, as it went undefeated in all four of its matches, winning all 36 bouts. Senior co-captain Danielle Davis led the way with a 12-0 showing. She was joined in victory by senior Natalie Tenner and sophomores Angela Vincent and Erin Housing. Though the Irish stars saw little time, if any, this weekend certainly left Bednarski feeling optimistic.”We have progress in our backups, which is good news for the future of the program,” he said. “They are young and trying to be the starters for the next few years.”