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Fencing teams record sweeps at Northwestern Duals

| Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The No. 3 ranked Notre Dame women’s fencing team and the No. 5 ranked men were both able to record sweeps on the road this weekend at the Northwestern Duals. Both teams were able to record an undefeated weekend for the second time this season in as many weeks Saturday at Ryan Fieldhouse in Evanston, Illinois. 

The women stood in command of the strip all day as they faced off against three teams that come in inside the top 10 in the national rankings, going 8-0 on the day. They began the day with a dominating win over the host of the event, No. 9 Northwestern.

Sophomore sabre Kara Linder got the Irish off to a quick start in the match against the Wildcats, winning all three of her duals. Fellow sabres senior Regina O’Brien and junior Reghan Ward both went 2-1 in their first duals of the day.

Kendra Osinski | The Observer
Irish senior foil Alexander Ju, right, parries his opponent during the DeCicco Duals on Jan. 27, 2019, at Castellan Family Fencing Center. Ju has a 31-5 record on the season.

The foil crew, consisting of seniors Samantha Viqueira, Finnula Mageras and Morgan Partridge as well as juniors Stefani Deschner and Isabelle Elizondo would go 8-1 in their first taste of competition in Illinois. Viqueira went 12-1 on the day in her duals and was named the ACC Women’s Fencer of the Week for her effort, an honor O’Brien received a week ago.

Senior epee Julia Barry lead the epee group, which was rounded out by sophomore Dasha Yefremenko and freshman Victoria Marian Tontcheva and the Irish defeated Northwestern in the first match of the day 18-9.

As the day went on, the Irish women recorded three more wins over UC San Diego 19-8, Lawrence 26-1 and Air Force 24-3 before they would face off against another ranked opponent in No. 5 Ohio State.

The Buckeyes were able to keep the match close for the Irish, at least relative to their prior competition they had seen that day. The Irish went on to win that match 18-9. The Irish would record two more match victories before facing off against the top-ranked team in the country, No. 1 Princeton. The Irish defeated Stanford 19-8 and Incarnate Word 22-5 before facing off against the Tigers. The Irish found victory in the most highly-anticipated match of the day, taking down the top ranked team in the country, 15-12. 

The men also recorded a shutout night, though the only ranked matchup they played came against No. 6 Princeton. The men were led by junior foil Joseph Marino, who went 11-1 throughout the day, and sophomore sabre Jared Smith, went 8-1 in his duals, while several members of the Irish split responsibility for the epee position.

The Irish started their day defeating UC San Diego 17-10 and went on to defeat Air Force 20-7. They defeated Stanford 16-11 and Incarnate Word 22-5 before they faced off against the No. 6 Princeton Tigers. The Tigers fell 15-12 to the Irish, and Notre Dame closed out their day with a win over Lawrence 25-2. 

Irish head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia praised his team for their effort during a tough weekend of duals. 

“Both our teams performed really well during a grueling day,” Kvaratskhelia said. “I can’t recall the last time we went undefeated at Northwestern in all matches. Our coaching staff was very pleased. We talk about character and resilience. Both teams showed those qualities in abundance.”

The Irish will be returning to a full roster this week after several months being short-handed losing some athletes to Olympic training. Kvaratskhelia touched on that and what it means for the rankings heading forward after the Northwestern Duals.

This week will be the first where we will have all hands on deck since November,” Kvaratskhelia said. “I am very excited to fence great opponents such as Penn State, Temple and Duke with a full-strength lineup.”

Kvaratskhelia also touched on how falling in the rankings didn’t faze him much.

To be honest, our initial ranking was a bit inflated,” he said. “It was based in part on our last three years’ work. To the extent we use it as motivation, we simply say that the way we prepare and the way we compete means more than any ranking in a poll.” 

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About Jimmy Ward

Jimmy is a senior at Holy Cross College, where he studies English and sports management. He is originally from Westfield, Indiana. Currently, Jimmy serves as an associate sports editor at The Observer. You can find him at @jimmyyward on Twitter.

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