Irish start season strong in hopes of defending national title
Observer Sports Staff | Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Notre Dame fencing comes into this season as the reigning 2017 NCAA Champions, and thus far they have picked up right where they left off starting two weeks ago at the Elite Invitational. Hosted by Ohio State on Nov. 5, the Irish women were able to sweep the competition, going 5-0 on the day to start their year off undefeated. On the other side, the men put together an impressive showing of their own, going 3-1 to open the season.
The women made their way through the day by defeating Cornell, Ohio State, Air Force, North Carolina and Princeton, all by very sound scores inside French Field House. Some of the strongest performances came from junior epeeist Amanda Sirico, who went 13-0 on the day and freshman epeeist Dasha Yefremenko, who was 12-3 in competition. Senior sabre Francesca Russo and junior foil Elyssa Kleiner both put up 8-1 performances.
On the men’s side, the first match of the day went to Ohio State in a tight battle, as the Buckeyes ultimately pulled out by a score of 15-12. However, the rest of the day would belong to the Irish, as they took down Air Force, North Carolina and Princeton to conclude the event. Leading the way was sophomore sabre Arsenii Panteleev, who went 9-3; a pair of 6-2 performances in foil by junior Axel Kiefer and senior Hazem Khazbak; freshman foil Nick Itkin, who went 6-3 and senior epeeist Nicholas Hanahan, who put up an 8-4 mark on the day.
For the Irish, the Elite Invitational concluded collegiate competition for a while as the team will not compete again until Jan. 20 at the St. John’s Invitational in Jamaica, New York. For some members of the team, however, there was action just this past weekend at the USA Fencing North American Cup in Kansas City, Missouri. Competition took place Friday through Monday at the event. Freshman epeeist Stephen Ewart finished first overall in the Junior Men’s Epee, while sophomore Zachary Cheng finished in 16th place. In the Women’s Junior Epee, sophomore Julia Barry came in 49th place. On Saturday, there were six women competing in the Women’s Junior Foil, with freshman Erica Tsai finishing the highest among the group in 11th place, followed not far behind by sophomores Samantha Viqueira in 17th and Finnula Mageras in 19th. Sunday saw no action from the Irish, but they were back Monday as Panteleev finished 26th in the Junior Men’s Saber and freshman Joseph Marino was able to pull out a ninth-place finish in the Junior Men’s Foil.
This time around, all team members will have a rather long break from action as until the December USA Fencing North American Cup gets underway in Portland, Oregon from Dec. 8 to Dec. 11. Until then, the Irish will continue to prepare as they seek to defend their national title in 2018.