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Fencing

Notre Dame sweeps conference titles at home

| Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Notre Dame added to its successful season over the weekend at the ACC championships, as both the Irish men and women went 3-0 to claim conference titles on campus at the Castellan Family Fencing Center.

“The crowds and friends were fantastic,” Irish head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said. “You always give more to show them how hard you work.”

The event began Saturday with the men’s individual championship and the women’s team championship tournaments.

Sophomore foil Virgile Collineau lunges toward his opponent the ACC championships at Castellan Family Fencing Center on Sunday.Emmet Farnan | The Observer

Sophomore foil Virgile Collineau lunges toward his opponent the ACC championships at Castellan Family Fencing Center on Sunday.

The No. 2 Notre Dame women started team competition with a 21-6 win over Boston College before beating both Duke and North Carolina handedly with equivalent 20-7 final scores to pick up the team crown, as Notre Dame to defend its title from last season, when the Irish won both team events in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

In addition to winning the women’s team title Saturday, Notre Dame boasted winners in all three individual men’s titles: Freshman Axel Kiefer won in foil, freshman Dylan French took the epee title, and sophomore Jonah Shainberg won the sabre. Both Kiefer and Shainberg faced teammates in the championship rounds of their respective competitions, a trend that continued throughout the weekend for Notre Dame. In the sabre championship, Shainberg defeated sophomore teammate Jonathan Fitzgerald, 15-12, while Kiefer beat junior teammate Kristjan Archer in a 15-7 win.

“That’s the easiest thing because you don’t coach,” Kvaratskhelia said of watching his players compete against each other. “You just go grab a glass of water and enjoy the good fencing without getting all riled up.”

Irish freshman epee Dylan French competes during the ACC championships Sunday at Castellan Family Fencing Center.Emmet Farnan | The Observer

Irish freshman epee Dylan French competes during the ACC championships Sunday at Castellan Family Fencing Center.

The Irish continued their winning ways during Sunday’s events, which featured the women’s individual championships and the men’s team contest.

In the men’s team competition, Notre Dame began the day with a 23-4 victory over Boston College. Just as the women had done the day before, the Irish then defeated North Carolina and Duke soundly, this time by matching scores of 19-8.

Of the three women’s individual competitions Sunday, the Irish picked up two crowns in foil and epee. Senior Catherine Lee picked up the epee title by beating Boston College senior Olivia Adranga, 15-11, while freshman Sabrina Massialas defeated freshman teammate Elyssa Kleiner, 15-12, for the foil crown. In Notre Dame’s only championship loss of the weekend, freshman Tara Hassett fell to Duke sophomore Jennifer Ling in the sabre championship, 15-12.

Kvaratskhelia said he was particularly proud of the performances of his youngest and oldest fencers at the championships.

“Win or lose, I cannot single out right now,” Kvaratskhelia said. “Our freshmen and seniors were huge — the freshman because it was their first time doing this and our seniors because they were just outstanding.”

Notre Dame will now have two weeks without a competition before beginning the next step of their postseason, the NCAA midwest regional.

“That is a completely new competition,” Kvaratskhelia said of the upcoming regional. “We’re going to completely reset and retool and get ready for that particular competition. The difference is they have to again fence again each other to qualify, and that will be heartbreaking for them.”

The NCAA midwest regional will take place in the French Field House on Ohio State’s campus in Columbus, Ohio.

Following the regional, the Irish will try to take part in the NCAA championships in Waltham, Massachusetts, at the end of March.

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