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Irish to compete in DeCicco Duals at home

| Thursday, January 23, 2020

After competing in two challenging meets over the weekend on the road — one at St. Johns, where the women posted a record of 3-2 and the men a record of 0-5, and one at the University of Pennsylvania, in which the women once more went 3-2 and the men improved to 4-1, the Notre Dame fencing squad will host the DeCicco Duals at home this Saturday and Sunday.

Although the results over the weekend were largely successful against some stiff competition, Irish head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia commented on some shortcomings he saw in his squad’s difficulty handling heightened competition.

“I think the kids put a lot of stress and pressure on themselves,” he said. “That’s what can happen with a young and inexperienced team with many of our starters having limited experience at the highest collegiate level.”

This lack of experience is partly a result of a number of team members training for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and competing at the World Championships in France.

Unfortunately, many of those athletes will still be unavailable for this weekend’s home meets, and Kvaratskhelia said the team is doing all it can to accommodate them as they prepare for their competitions. Those competitors, however, will be back and available for the team later on in the season for some key events.

“In order to accommodate our athletes’ needs to make their international teams, we will not have them this weekend,” he said. “We will have them for our later dual meets ACCs and NCAAs, and that will be a great help.”

Kvaratskhelia also commented on the team’s ability to close out matches. He did say, as the team continued to perform, he saw improvement.

“It seemed that the further along we went, the better the team performed. We were in a lot of matches, but couldn’t finish,” he said. “Aside from [graduate student] Amanda Sirico, we didn’t have anyone else who could close out a match for us.”
Allison Thornton | The Observer
Graduate student epeeist Amanda Sirico competes in the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships on March 9 at Notre Dame.
In regards to this weekend’s meet specifically, Kvaratskhelia expressed his confidence in the team — and said his expectations remain quite high.
“Our expectations are always the highest,” he said. “We have to adjust our psychological preparation to match our kids’ skillset, so that we can help them perform to their best level. I have confidence that we will be ready for the weekend.”
And those high expectations make sense in light of the team’s performance last year at the DeCicco Duels, when both teams recorded 8-0 records and thoroughly outmatched the competition in a dominating performance on all fronts. During the meet, the women had five competitors reach double-digit wins, and for the men, five competitors recorded at least eight wins. Notre Dame will look to replicate that performance again this weekend.
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