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Irish three-peat as ACC champions

| Monday, February 27, 2017

Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams celebrated as they clinched the ACC championship at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina, on Saturday and Sunday.

Both teams claimed their third consecutive conference titles.

In addition, the men came home with weapon titles in two out three weapons. The men’s team, ranked fourth nationally, powered through to a victory against No. 9 Duke by a score of 14-13.

Irish head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said he was very pleased on how his team stayed fully prepared and remained focused throughout the ACC championships.

“It’s work every single day. We have a slogan that perfection is a habit, and we try to live with that expectation every single day,” Kvaratskhelia said. “That produces the champions at the end.”

With the individual competition on Sunday, the Irish men had seven fencers advance to the semifinals and had two fencers make it to the finals in the foil competition. In the epee final, freshman Ariel Simmons defeated reigning ACC champion and fellow Irish sophomore Dylan French,15-9, to clinch his first conference title. In the foil final, senior Kristjan Archer defeated another reigning ACC champion, Irish sophomore Axel Kiefer, 15-11, to grab his first conference title as well. Junior Jonah Shainberg took home runner-up honors in the sabre final.

The women’s team, ranked third nationally, claimed all three individual titles for the first time Saturday. In the foil, sophomore Sabrina Massialas defeated senior teammate Lee Kiefer to clinch her second consecutive ACC championship. Junior Francesca Russo took home her first ACC title in the sabre while sophomore Amanda Sirico clinched the title in the epee.

On Sunday, the Irish women competed for the team portion of the competition. In a blowout, Notre Dame came into Cameron Indoor Stadium and swiftly defeated Boston College, 24-3, Duke, 20-7, and North Carolina, 20-7, in a four-team round-robin.

In foil, the Irish women defeated Boston College and Duke with each score coming to 9-0, and defeated North Carolina 7-2. In epee, the Irish finished with a combined record of 20-7 against the three teams, and the sabre team finished with a combined record 19-8 to clinch the third title on the day.

Both men’s and women’s Most Valuable Fencers came from Notre Dame, as Simmons and Massialas earned the coaches’ vote.

On Saturday, the Irish were cheered on by the Irish women’s lacrosse team, which was in town to face Duke on Sunday. Kvaratskhelia said the team appreciated the squad’s support throughout that first day.

“I want to give a shout-out to our Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team. They came and really equalized the pressure and we owe them a lot,” said Kvaratskhelia. “Excitement was through the roof and Duke was going to defend their turf in this legendary arena and they almost got us.”

Kvaratskhelia and the Irish will look to continue this momentum into the NCAA midwest regional championships at Matthei Center in Detroit on March 11, where the Irish will try to fill the 12 maximum spots for the NCAA championships.

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