Notre Dame prepares for first home event at DiCicco Duals
Alex Bender | Friday, January 26, 2018
This weekend, the Irish will have an opportunity to show off their talents at home when they host the DiCicco Duals on Friday and Saturday in the Castellan Family Fencing Center. The team comes into the competition ranked first in the nation in both men’s and women’s, who have records of 9-4 and 13-1 respectively. So far, the team has been able to live up to the hype. Just this past weekend, the Irish took a trip to the east coast where they participated in the St. John’s SuperCup, as well as the Philadelphia Invitational, putting together two days of solid performances against tough competition that featured six of the top 10 programs in the nation. Notre Dame’s head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia has noted the impressive play of his squad and said he feels good about the position his team has put themselves in thus far this season.
“We are definitely in a good place in terms of our preparation for meets this season. We’re displaying good form and getting the chance to be together as a team has been a factor,” Kvaratskhelia said. “Knowing that we have eight weeks to go until we get into ACCs and NCAAs, I feel confident with where we are at.”
As the reigning national champions, Notre Dame recognizes they have a target on their back and are going to get the best out of their competition. As such, Kvaratskhelia has stressed the importance to his team of being well-prepared for this weekend’s action, especially in some of their smaller areas of focus.
“We want to work on the details, looking to get better physically as well as technically and tactically,” Kvaratskhelia said. “As of now, we want to work on individual development, which is most important.”
In regards to this weekend’s competition, Notre Dame gets a bit of a reprieve compared to last weekend’s elite programs. The schools participating this weekend include Northwestern, Wayne State, Cleveland State and Detroit Mercy, as well as a number of club teams as the weekend progresses. Kvaratskhelia said he recognizes this, and with a number of top team members missing this weekend as they participate in the USA Fencing North American Cup, he has high hopes for the remaining group that will get a crack at the action this weekend.
“We have a tough matchup with Northwestern, a school we haven’t faced yet, and they’re doing well,” Kvaratskhelia said. “With some of our athletes away competing in the North American Cup, we’ll be relying on backups and role players. There are a bunch of teams from Midwest coming in this weekend, and we will take them serious and hope to come out on top.”
As Kvaratskhelia mentions, this will be a rarer opportunity for some of his team to see some live competition. While the game plan will not change and he still hopes to see strong play this weekend, he is excited to see some of these team members take advantage of the stage and put up strong performances.
“We’re hoping for improvement from last week. We’re going to evaluate our athletes the way we did in New York, and we’ve prepared and hope to get better compared to last week,” Kvaratskhelia said. “This is a time to shine for our second and third string members who don’t normally get to travel and will get to compete this weekend. Our starters will be there to support them, and it provides a great opportunity to build camaraderie for this team.”