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Fencing: Foilists go undefeated as team sweeps Duals

Ken Fowler | Monday, February 5, 2007

Notre Dame junior foilist Rachel Cota wanted the women in her weapon to go undefeated against Purdue, Michigan State and Indiana in the Midwest Duals Saturday.

The foilists delivered.

En route to sweeps on both the men’s and women’s sides, the Irish women foilists went 27-0 against the lesser competition. Cota, junior Melanie Bautista and senior Colleen Walsh each went 9-0 for Notre Dame.

“What they promised they delivered,” Irish coach Janusz Bednarski said.

The Notre Dame men beat Indiana 22-5, Michigan State 20-7 and Purdue 24-3. The Irish women topped the Hoosiers 23-4, the Spartans 25-2 and the Boilermakers 27-0.

Women’s sabres Ashley Serrette, a sophomore, and Anna Rodriguez, a senior, both went 9-0 in their bouts.

“It was a good weekend to get our skills back together,” Cota said. “It’s just good to get some wins under your belt after the tough competition last weekend in New York.”

A week after facing four top-10 teams in the NYU Duals in Manhattan, the Irish breathed easier against the three club teams. With the lower level of competition, some of the team’s top fencers had the event off. Senior sabres Valerie Providenza, Patrick Ghattas and Matt Stearns sat out the competition, as well as sophomore foilists Emilie Prot and Mark Kubik, junior foilist Jakub Jedrkowiak and senior foilist Frank Bontempo.

“It was very important to bring the confidence for those who don’t have the big experience,” Bednarski said. “All those who got the chance to compete – really all of them fenced very well. … Sometimes they were even losing a bout, but they were trying.”

Cota, who is a regular in the Irish lineup, said her teammates made sure the fencers getting a rare chance to compete heard the support.

“The best part of the weekend was cheering each other on,” she said.

Bednarski said the bouts were an important tune-up for next weekend’s Duke Duals in Durham, N.C. Air Force, Duke, Johns Hopkins and North Carolina are the scheduled opponents in Durham. The Falcons are ninth in the current USFCA poll on the men’s side while the Blue Devils received votes but are outside the top 10 in both the men’s and women’s rankings.