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Fencing: Underclassmen stand out in crowded field

Mike Monaco | Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Irish were not be denied by the 14 other participating schools at this weekend’s Notre Dame Duals, as the No. 4 men’s team and No. 3 women’s team dominated, with each group finishing 12-0 on the weekend.

To come out from the weekend undefeated was no easy feat given the number of opponents, Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said.

“It’s good to see them go undefeated,” Bednarski said. “It doesn’t mean it was easy, though. We had to fight in some cases against squads with some fencers who were fighting strongly against us. It’s one of the biggest competitions we have in the season with 15 teams, so there were a lot of bouts.”

The women’s team (18-5) was in action Saturday and dominated from its opener, a 21-6 win over Purdue, to its finale, a showdown against No. 4 Northwestern that Notre Dame won 17-10.

The women won in convincing fashion, amassing 20-plus points in nine of the matches, including a perfect 27-0 score against Case Western. The women’s sabre squad carried the Irish, totaling a record of 99-9 over the 12 matches.

Junior Danielle Guilfoyle led the charge with a record of 22-2. Freshmen Channing Foster and Nicole Ameli, who compiled 20-3 and 15-1 records, respectively, led the epee unit.

Bednarski said he was particularly pleased with the improvement shown by his young freshmen in their second tournament after making their debut in New York last weekend.

“It’s nice to see underclassmen like Foster and Ameli perform as they did,” Bednarski said. “They made a great step forward [Saturday]. In New York they were a little nervous, as it was their first time. You could tell there was a lot of nervousness. But [this weekend] they showed they can be counted on as very important fencers.”

Another underclassman, sophomore Adriana Camacho, paced the female foilists with a perfect 15-0 mark on the day, which highlighted the 94-14 total for the women’s foil.

Sunday, when the men’s team (24-5) took to the strip, was much of the same, as the men picked up right where the women left off.

“The women did a great job [Saturday], and the boys did not want to do any worse,” Bednarski said.

The Irish started the day with a 25-2 beat down of Purdue and never looked back, hitting the 20-point mark in 11 of 12 matchups.

The men were led by the sabreurs, who finished the day with a 100-8 record, including a 35-1 start to the Duals. As with the women’s side, the men’s team featured underclassmen who came through with strong showings.

“We’re definitely seeing a lot of progression,” Bednarski said. “We had several underclassmen who won some important bouts under pressure against good opponents. It’s a good sign because now we know that eventually [the underclassmen] will [grow into] very valuable fencers.”

In addition to the sabreurs, Bednarski was pleased with the performance of a pair of freshmen epeeists.

“Albert He was fighting very bravely for us,” Bednarski said. “Another freshman, Ryan McDonough, was also competing strongly. They aren’t yet what I would call great fencers, but with more experience they can [reach that level].”

While the Irish are pleased with the victories, the team knows there is still work to be done, Bednarski said.

“We need to keep working hard,” Bednarski said. “We need to prepare new leaders who will take the responsibility during the very tough moments and show the necessary confidence to bring us back.”

The Irish hit the strip next over the weekend when they travel to Evanston, Ill., for the Northwestern Duals.

 

Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu