Short-handed Irish compete at Northwestern Duals
Andrew Robinson | Sunday, February 2, 2014
Squaring off against some of the nation’s top teams Saturday in the Northwestern Duals, the young Notre Dame fencing squad — missing some of its key members — finished the day with seven team wins and six losses. The women ended with four team wins and three losses, while the men split their six matchups.
The women’s team started off strong with a 20-7 first-round win over Stanford. The foilists, sophomores Nicole McKee and Sarah Followill and senior Adriana Camacho, posted a 9-0 record in the matchup.
The men’s squad was not as successful to start the day, falling 19-8 to Penn in its first bout. However, the men were able to bounce back and pulled out a 15-12 victory against the defending national champion, Princeton. The foilists finished 6-3, despite missing senior captain and the world’s top-ranked foilist Gerek Meinhardt, who was out with a minor injury on the same knee he had surgery on in 2011.
“We thought it would be better not to risk any further injuries at the beginning of the season,” Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said. “He had leg surgery in the past and it was a bit swollen, so we were very careful.”
As the day continued, the women pulled off a 16-11 win against Duke before dropping three in a row to Princeton, Penn and Temple. Women’s foil was missing its two key members, sophomore 2013 national champion Lee Kiefer and junior Madison Zeiss. Both were recently called to compete for the United States in the World Cup in Poland.
“You have to make sacrifices,” Bednarski said. “It was difficult for the young fencers to step in and take the places of the big fencers.”
The men’s squad began to wear down as well, losing 15-12 to Stanford. Bednarski cited inexperience and inconsistency as tough hurdles for the Irish squads.
“We have to be stable, not win against the best and then lose against teams who are supposed to lose to us,” he said.
The women regained energy and bounced back to win 16-11 over North Carolina and 22-5 over UC San Diego. The men lost 14-13 to Duke but won decisively 24-3 in their final bout against Lawrence, including a 9-0 victory for the epeeists.
Although a few of the losses were disappointing to the Irish coach, Bednarski said a few young fencers performed very well relative to their experience, including freshman foilist Kristjan Archer. He also remained hopeful for the team moving forward.
“We lost a couple of matches, but we also had some good rounds and gained experience, giving hope that we will be strong in the future,” Bednarski said.
“Now in the qualification path in the NCAA we want to be in the top group, so we’ll get back to work and prepare for the upcoming tournaments.”
The Irish will be back in action next weekend when they host the DeCicco Duals at the Castellan Family Fencing Center.
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