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Irish men, women compete in pair of meets over weekend

| Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The No. 2-ranked Notre Dame fencing teams, missing top athletes training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and participating in the World Championships in France, took part in two meets over the weekend.

The first event took place in Jamaica, New York, at the St. John’s Invitational and the second at the University of Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Invitational. Both events saw stiff competition for the Irish as they faced six of the top seven teams in the country, according to head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia.

The first meet of the weekend saw varied results for the Irish men and women. The men posted a record of 0-5 over the weekend while the women managed to pull out a 3-2 record. In the first contest against No. 5 Ohio State, the men’s team controlled the foil duals with a 7-2 margin as a team, but fell 4-5 in the sabre duals and 2-7 in epee, narrowly falling 14-13 to the Buckeyes.

Kendra Osinski | The Observer
Irish junior foil Joseph Marino attempts to dodge a thrust during the DeCicco Duals at the Castellan Family Fencing Center on Jan. 27.

The women also fell 4-5 in sabre, but won both the foil and epee competitions by a score of 6-3 to defeat the Buckeyes women’s team 16-11.

The second opponent Notre Dame faced, with similar results, was No. 4 Penn State, the defending national runners-up. The men lost the edge in sabre 4-5 and lost the foil 8-1, but dominated the epee competition 8-1 to once more fall by a 14-13 margin. The Irish women were competitive with the Nittany Lions but could not gain an edge in any competition, this time coming up on the losing end of a 16-11 score.

The following match pitted Notre Dame against No. 3 Harvard, where the men failed to win a majority of any dual type and themselves lost 16-11. The women managed to rebound however, winning the sabre, foil and epee rounds to beat the Crimson 18-9.

The teams then took on No. 7 St. John’s, where the men won the sabre and lost the foil matches both by final scores of 5-4, but lost in epee 7-2 to lose once again 16-11. The women would then record their third win of the day thanks to the narrowest of edges. In three separate 5-4 decisions, the Irish came out on top in sabre and epee to beat the Red Storm 14-13.

However, both teams were outmatched at the end of competition by reigning national champion No. 1 Columbia. The men mustered a 5-4 win in epee, but dropped the sabre and foil duals by scores of 6-3 and 9-0, respectively, to lose 19-8. The women fared slightly better but, much like their match with Penn State, could not get the edge in any category and fell 16-11.

Despite the tough finishes in New York, Notre Dame collectively performed much better in Philadelphia. The women’s team posted another record of 3-2 on the day, but the men’s team improved with a 4-1 showing against the competition, including revenge against St. John’s with a 14-13 victory for the men.

Kvaratskhelia noted the improvement from the first meet to the second.

“We certainly needed adjustments,” Kvaratskhelia said in an email. “The kids tensed up and tried to be perfect. We just told them to follow the process and use their skills, rather than discuss the results.”

Even so, Kvaratskhelia said the team must do better against tough competition, and the coaches may tinker with the lineup in pursuit of better finishes.

“We do have the chance to adjust our lineup for upcoming meets,” he said. “We performed better on Sunday, but the results did not lie. This is where we are nationally at this point of the season.”

The Irish will have a chance to improve their record and develop further with the annual DeCicco Duals coming up this weekend at home.

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About Hayden Adams

Hayden is the former sports editor of The Observer. When he's not working toward his four majors (physics and film, television & theatre) and three minors (journalism, ethics & democracy), you can probably find him hopelessly trying to save his beloved Zahm House from being wiped out. He plans to attend law school at a TBD location after graduation.

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