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Notre Dame heads to Northwestern after dominate home tournament

| Friday, January 31, 2020

After dominating the competition at the DeCicco Duals, which the Irish hosted, the No. 1-ranked Notre Dame women’s and No. 2-ranked men’s fencing teams will head to Evanston, Illinois to take on Northwestern, and other programs, in the Northwestern Duals this weekend. The Irish will also have the opportunity to face off against Princeton, Ohio State and Stanford.

Heading into the weekend, Irish head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia spoke about some of the challenges the Irish will face this weekend.

”At Northwestern, the women face the challenging Western schools, as well as outstanding teams in Northwestern, Princeton, and Ohio State,” Kvaratskhelia said. ”Our men face Princeton, Stanford, and the rest of the West, which will be tough. Our main focus of improvement this week will be toward finishing bouts, and finishing matches. We have the ability to fence at the highest level, but only if we can perform under stressful situations can we produce the results in the coming weeks at Northwestern, Duke and at ACCs.”

The Irish competed in the Northwestern Duals last season, and while things went swimmingly for the women, the same wasn’t particularly the case for the men.

Hannah Huelskamp | The Observer
Irish freshman foilist Zoe Barnette competes during the Decicco Duals on Jan. 26. The Irish women posted a clean sweep of the competition on both days of the duals, going 14-0 overall.

The women went perfect, undefeated in eight matches, and as the top-ranked team in the nation, they solidified their elite status. Plus, five of those match victories were against top 10 teams.

They started the day by handling UC San Diego swiftly, winning 19-8, and they went on to defeat No. 6 Princeton 19-8, No. 9 UPenn 18-9, No. 2 Northwestern 15-12, Air Force 15-12, No. 8 Duke 18-9, No. 10 Temple 17-10 and Incarnate World 23-4.

Things weren’t so swift for the men’s team, who went 3-4 on the tournament. The squad defeated UC San Diego 15-12, Air Force 18-9 and Incarnate World 17-10. But when it came to some tougher competition, the Irish stumbled. They lost to No. 9 UPenn 14-13, Stanford 15-12, No. 10 Duke 14-13 and No. 5 Princeton 17-10.

Hannah Huelskamp | The Observer
Irish sophomore epeeist Michael Siroky competes during the Decicco Duals on Jan. 26. Like the women, the Irish men’s team recorded a perfect 14-0 record against the competition over the two-day event.

The Irish will look to take the momentum gained from a decisive performance at the DeCicco Duals, where both units went 14-0 over the two-day competition, into the Northwestern Duals this weekend.

And, as the competition will start to heat up, coach Kvaratskhelia emphasized his opinion that the rankings don’t matter as much as they seem. He wants his squads to stay strong physically and mentally no matter the rankings.

”In my opinion, rankings are very subjective,” he said. ”We’ve won championships ranked in the middle of the top ten, and failed to win when we were an overwhelming number one. We are more concerned with the process of competing and preparing to be at our best in a consistent manner, both physically and mentally.”

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