ND readies to host ACC championships at Castelan
Benjamin Padanilam | Thursday, February 25, 2016
Notre Dame will compete in the ACC championships this weekend, where they look to continue its regular season success.
The Irish last took the strip three weeks ago, when the second-ranked men’s and women’s squad finished their regular season at the Duke Duals. The women capped-off an undefeated regular season, while the men suffered just their second loss of the season.
This weekend, however, the Irish will begin postseason play when they host the ACC championships. The tournament will be the first conference championship Notre Dame has hosted since joining the ACC.
Irish head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said hosting the event is an honor and an opportunity for the program.
“It’s a huge thing for us as a program, for the athletic department and the University,” Kvaratskhelia said. “This will be the first time an ACC championship will be hosted by Notre Dame, and we’ve been planning this for two years. We want to put on an event worthy of the conference, the competitors, and Notre Dame. We’re hoping that we have a great crowd this weekend, so we can show our friends and fans what we can do.
“Our guests would love nothing better than to beat us on our home floor; we’d like nothing better than to win right here.”
The Irish will play host to Boston College, Duke and North Carolina this weekend. This season, both the men and women have squared off against the Blue Devils and Tar Heels. At the Duke Duals, the men defeated the ninth-ranked Blue Devils 16-11, while cruising to a 25-2 win over the Tar Heels. Similarly, the women topped Duke and North Carolina by scores of 17-10 and 24-3, respectively. Neither the men nor the women have competed against the Eagles.
Kvaratskhelia said a successful showing at the conference championship has been a goal for the Irish all season, especially as a part of the journey towards a national championship.
“It’s the first step toward the ultimate goal — the NCAA championship,” Kvaratskhelia said. “That said, winning an ACC championship is very important to us.”
The ACC championships will be similar to the dual meets the Irish competed in this season in some ways, and it will also serve as good preparation for the NCAA championships for each individual fencer, Kvaratskhelia said.
“The individual championships are similar to the NCAAs, [as they are] a lot of bouts in a short time,” Kvaratskhelia said. “That will be useful experience.
“The team event is similar to the dual meets we’ve fenced all year, so I expect us to bring everything to bear.”
This past week, both the male and female ACC Fencer of the Week honors were awarded to members of the Irish squad. Sophomore foilist Virgile Collineau and freshman sabreuse Tara Hassett were the second and third fencers to win the award this season for the Irish. While the each fencer is starting to peak at the right time, they will need to maintain that level of performance if they want to succeed in the postseason, Kvaratskhelia said.
“We will need everyone to perform well,” Kvaratskhelia said. “It’s the only way we’ll win this weekend, and at the NCAA [championships].”
The Irish will take the strip in the ACC championships starting Saturday at the Castellan Family Fencing Center.