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Irish look to carry ACC momentum into NCAA regionals

| Thursday, March 9, 2017

This coming weekend, the Notre Dame men’s and women’s teams will compete in the NCAA midwest regional in Detroit. With both teams coming off of first-place ACC finishes, the No. 3 Irish women and No. 4 Irish men are poised to continue the momentum in the qualification for NCAAs.

On Feb. 25 and 26, Notre Dame dominated the ACC tournament in Durham, North Carolina. The women’s trio of sophomore foilist Sabrina Massialas, sophomore epeeist Amanda Sirico and junior sabreuse Francesca Russo swept the individual titles, the first time in Notre Dame history. On the men’s side, the top-seeded Irish won their third-straight ACC title, defeating Duke 14-13 in the finals. Irish head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said while lessons from the ACC tournament will be useful in approaching the new challenge of NCAAs, the tournaments differ greatly.

“We learned the value of resilience, especially in the men’s match against Duke,” Kvaratskhelia said. “We knew it would be tough; we had to keep fighting. However, this tournament is completely different from ACCs. It’s purely individual, which our fencers are familiar with, in terms of competing nationally and internationally.”

But for Kvaratskhelia, the team’s goals are far from accomplished.

“Our challenge is to qualify 12 fencers for NCAAs,” he said. “We have a dangerous Ohio State team in our way on both the men’s and women’s side, along with Northwestern and Wayne State on the women’s.”

However, Kvaratskhelia said the Irish just need to maintain their current level of competition,

“At this point, it’s refinement and rest, along with building the proper mindset,” he said. “ … I’m excited to see all our fencers compete.”

The key for continued Irish success lies in approaching the regional competition with composure and a clear goal, Kvaratskhelia said.

“Aside from competing with integrity, it really is about winning bouts and qualifying,” he said. “The goal is to win NCAAs. Qualifying 12 maximizes our chances.”

Notre Dame begins its quest for a NCAA championship this Saturday in Detroit.

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