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Irish undefeated at DeCicco Duals over weekend

| Monday, January 18, 2016

Notre Dame swept the strip in the third annual DeCicco Duals at home this past weekend.

Both Irish men’s and women’s teams went undefeated through the two-day meet, which featured 14 opposing teams, both varsity and club.

“I think all the kids held their serve and did really well,” Irish coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said. “We got what we anticipated. Most importantly, we needed to be focused, and the team was really focused.”

The team began its first day with a bye and six rounds of bouts, beating Detroit, Wayne State, Sacred Heart, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Lawrence and Florida’s club team. The Irish women were perfect individually against Detroit, defeating the Titans 27-0.

Sacred Heart proved to be the most difficult challenge for the women’s team, as the Irish lost three bouts in sabre and four bouts in epee in the fourth round. But overall, senior epee Catherine Lee, who finished her weekend 1-2, said her team was unfazed.

“Women’s epee knew what to expect, and there weren’t a lot of surprises,” Lee said. “You have a really hard time predicting what is going to happen each bout. But everyone was very collected and calm.”

Lee was one of seven seniors honored late Saturday morning at the Senior Day recognition ceremony, which also included men’s sabre John Hallsten and epees John Poremski and Garrett McGrath and women’s sabre Victoria Sluka and foils Sarah Followill and Nicole McKee. Kvaratskhelia praised the accomplishments of this senior class following the day’s bouts.

“This senior class was twice in the top-three nationally,” Kvaratskhelia said. “They were runners-up three years ago and last year second-place finishers. They have brought so much dynamic success for this program. It will be hard to replace them.”

More non-starters and underclassmen were able to compete Sunday, when the Irish swept seven club teams from McKendree, Oakland, Navy, Clemson, Indiana, Michigan State and Michigan.

“They kept up the intensity really well,” Lee said. “It’s really easy to get complacent, but everyone brought their best to the strip repeatedly. It’s really an exercise in self-control, in patience and endurance throughout the day. We’re still figuring out our strengths and weaknesses, but we look forward to each tournament one day at a time.”

The women’s team is currently ranked first in the NCAA, while the men’s team is ranked second behind Columbia. The Irish will face off against Columbia, among other teams, next weekend in their fiercest competition yet at the NYU/St. John’s Invitational. Kvaratskhelia said he learned a lot this weekend from his team’s performance regarding the upcoming meet.

“This weekend was very important in terms of the cohesiveness of the team and the chemistry,” Kvaratskhelia said. “It was a kind of warmup for us to see what we can work on this week in order to be ready for that most important tournament. [The NYU tournament] is the strongest possible duals meet for us.”

The Irish will travel to Queens, New York, to take the strip against Columbia, NYU, St. John’s and other teams beginning Saturday.

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