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Fencing makes statements in New York, Philadelphia

| Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Notre Dame fencing team left little doubt of their ability this weekend with impressive showings at the St. John’s and Philadelphia Invitationals. The men put together a perfect 9-0 weekend to stay undefeated and move to 21-0, while the women compiled an excellent 8-1 weekend record to improve to 24-1 on the season.

“I think going in, there’s a little bit of pressure to do well, to perform, with the knowledge that we have a pretty strong roster,” senior epeeist Miriam Grady said Monday of the expectations heading into this past weekend. “We have a good chance against pretty much anyone and [we know] that we just need to perform.”

Both Irish teams entered the weekend as the top-ranked teams in the US Fencing Coaches Association Poll but faced the highest level of competition yet this year with matchups against multiple top-10 opponents on both days.

“Last weekend was pretty much our biggest meet of the year,” said Grady. “We really have our toughest competition, all the top fencing schools which include the Ivies, Ohio State, Penn State and a couple other schools mixed in there as well.”

Matchups against Columbia and Princeton were especially intriguing with the programs facing Notre Dame for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. Both programs are ranked just behind the Irish in the polls and are significant challengers to Notre Dame’s national title defense.

Against No. 2 Columbia, Notre Dame notched victories for both the women’s and men’s teams at both meets. This included a convincing 18-9 win for the women on Sunday with perfect 3-0 performances from Grady and freshman Kaylin Sin Yan Hsieh in the épée, junior Amita Berthier in the foil and freshman Jadeyn Williams in the sabre.

Trailing 11-13 with Columbia needing one more point to win, the men clinched a nail-biting comeback on Saturday, winning the final three sabre bouts to defeat the No. 2 Lions 14-13. The fightback started with the foil after some outstanding performances from seniors Andrew Machovec and Nick Itkin, along with reigning NCAA individual champion junior Marcello Olivares.

Princeton was more of the same for the men, who claimed a relatively comfortable 20-7 victory over the No. 4 Tigers with a perfect 3-0 showing from junior sabre George Bivins and a dominant 9-0 sweep in the foil. It was a different story for the women who suffered their first loss of the season against the Tigers, falling 19-8.

Outside of those marquee opponents, the Irish defeated Harvard (M:25-12, W:20-7), Ohio State (M:16-11, W:19-8) and hosts St. John’s (M:14-13, W:21-6) on Saturday. In Philadelphia, they beat Yale (M:18-9, W:14-13), NYU (M:17-10, W:23-4) and hosts Penn (M:15-12, W:16-11).

“This meet proves that we have one of the strongest rosters out there,” said Grady. “With the men we went undefeated, and the girls only dropped one. So, that shows, across the board, that we’re up there with just about anyone. This was a good way to preview, early in the year, the top people we are going to be up against and see how we match up, and I would say we are in a good position.”

Notre Dame fencing is back in action as the host for this weekend’s DeCicco Duals in the Castellan Family Fencing Center Saturday and Sunday.

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