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Notre Dame shines in individual events, falls in team events at ACC Championships

| Monday, February 26, 2018

Notre Dame saw mixed results in the ACC championship over the weekend as they walked away successful in both men’s and women’s individuals events while failing to repeat as champions in either team event.

Action got underway Saturday when the Irish women competed for individual weapons titles, both making and repeating history in the process.

In foil, Notre Dame dominated, taking all four spots in the semifinals thanks to the strong performances of junior Elyssa Kliener, freshman Stefani Deschner and sophomores Morgan Partridge and Samantha Viqueira. The semis saw two tightly contested matches, but ultimately it was Kleiner defeating Viqueira 13-12 and Deschner outlasting Partridge 15-13.

Kleiner jumped out to an early lead in the finals, and despite the best efforts of Deschner who rattled off five straight points during the match, Kleiner held on and secured her first career league title, 15-11.

Partridge defeated Viqueira 15-11 for third place. In sabre, three Irish fencers advanced to the semifinals led by defending champion Francesca Russo along with Tara Hassett and Reghan Ward. Hassett was able to defeat Duke’s Haley Fisher to advance to the finals where she faced off against Russo.

The defending champion was able to secure the title yet again, becoming the first woman to repeat since the event was introduced in 2015. Ward placed third after defeating Fisher in the semis.

In epee, junior Amanda Sirico was the lone Irish fencer to advance to the semis, but she made it count as she was able to march her way through to repeat as champion herself. With the three victories, the Notre Dame women became the first women’s team to sweep the podium in consecutive years.

Competition wrapped up on Saturday with the men’s team event, and despite strong performances in their first two matches, defeating Boston College 20-7 and North Carolina 23-4, the Irish were faced with tough competition against Duke. Notre Dame was able to take sabre 5-4, but the Blue Devils handled epee and foil, winning 8-1 and 7-2 respectively, and taking home the ACC title in the process. A bright spot in the day came for senior sabreur senior Jonah Shainberg who became the all-time winningest men’s fencer in ND history at 194 dual bouts. He ended the day at 196.

On Sunday, Notre Dame opened up with men’s individual events, and the Irish were able to advance two Irish fencers to the semis in all three weapons.

In foil, both freshman Nick Itkin and junior Axel Kiefer advanced with Itkin ultimately being able to take home the title after defeating Kiefer in the semis and Duke’s Eoin Gronningsater in the finals. In sabre, senior Jonathan Fitzgerald as well as Shainberg advanced. Shainberg was able to take the semifinal match between the two 15-11 before taking down Duke’s Pascual Di Tella in the championship, the same man who had defeated him a year earlier.

In epee, junior Dylan French and sophomore Ariel Simmons faced off in the semis where Simmons edged out his teammate before ultimately falling to Duke’s Bryn Hammarberg in the finals.

Concluding the weekend’s action was the women’s team event. After defeating Boston College 24-3, Notre Dame took down North Carolina 21-6 in round two. However, they would fall to Duke in round three, allowing for a three way fence off between the Irish, Blue Devils, and Tar Heels. North Carolina was able to just edge out its competition and take home their first women’s conference fencing title.

Moving forward, the Irish will now prepare for the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships starting Mar. 10 at Cleveland State University. Following that is NCAA Championships on Mar. 22 and 23 where Notre Dame will hope to defend their title as reigning national champions.

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