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Fencing: Top-ranked women perfect over weekend

Meghan McMahon | Monday, February 4, 2008

After a less-than-superb showing at the NYU Duals last weekend, Notre Dame re-established itself as a national contender at the Northwestern Duals Saturday and Sunday, the final team road event before the NCAA Midwest Regional competition on March 2.

The No. 1 women finished with a perfect 11-0 record for the weekend, beating three of the top 10 teams in the country.

Irish coach Janusz Bednarski was thrilled with the girls’ showing.

“These are very high results for us,” Bednarski said. “We showed great form and fenced superbly against some of the most important teams.”

After a 21-6 victory over defending national champion No. 4 Penn State, the Irish women beat No. 2 Ohio State 17-10, redeeming their Jan. 26 loss to the Buckeyes. The women also had two perfect matches, 27-0 victories against both Cal Tech and Cal State Fullerton.

A major factor in the team’s improvement was the return of top sophomore epeeist Kelley Hurley. Hurley, who has been competing in Europe in hopes of maintaining a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, made her dual season debut in Evanston this weekend.

“She lost only one bout during the two days of competition,” Bednarski said. “She was the best fencer of the whole competition.”

The No. 3 men finished 8-2 in their matches, including a 21-6 victory over No. 10 Stanford.

The men’s only losses came against Penn State and Ohio State, the nation’s first and second ranked teams. The Nittany Lions topped Notre Dame 16-11. The Irish men came up short in the final bout versus Ohio State, losing to the Buckeyes by a narrow 14-13 margin for the second time this season.

“The boys all competed equally greatly against very tough competition,” Bednarski said. “We competed in one of the biggest tournaments in the country, and the whole team fenced very strongly.”

The Irish will finish their regular season when they host the two-day Notre Dame Duals this Saturday and Sunday.