Notre Dame women's fencing at 2007 NCAAs (Madison, NJ; photos by Jim O'Connor and Chris Pedota).
Battle-tested sabre fencer who should be among the favorites to win the 2007 NCAA title, with her three previous top-10 finishes including an NCAA title as a freshman in 2004 (she was a 2005 semifinalist) ... has tremendous combination of physical and mental talent that could help her become a top candidate for U.S. national-team duty in the future ... matches tremendous speed, range and physicality with quick mental reactions ... makes effective use of modern style ... can quickly turn momentum and dominate a bout ... strong candidate for Academic All-America honors, entering her senior year with a 3.37 cumulative GPA (as a psychology and Spanish major) ...was listed 10th in the USFA women's saber national "rolling" rankings (as of Dec. 11, 2006) ... won 2004 Junior Olympics before winning on a bigger stage at the 2004 NCAAs ... returned to NCAAs with a courageous performance that saw her battle through illness while helping the Irish rally from big deficit to edge Ohio State for 2005 national team title (she finished second in roundrobin and went on to place fourth in medal round) ... combined the past two seasons with former club teammate Mariel Zagunis, the '05 NCAA runner-up and '06 champion, to form the top tandem in the young history of NCAA women's sabre competition (since 2000) ... one of six members of the 2007 Notre Dame roster from the Oregon fencing pipeline, with fellow sabreists Zagunis, Patrick Ghattas and Bill Thanhouser (plus recent ND fencer Angela Vincent) also being products of Oregon Fencing Alliance ... continued her pattern of strong performances at the annual Penn State Open by finishing second at that event in the fall of 2006, going 15-0 in pool bouts (#2 seed) before a 15-14 win over Ohio State 's Syvenna Siebert in the round-of-16, a 15-8 quarterfinal win over PSU's Sophia Hiss, a 15-7 semifinal with Harvard's Carolyn Wright and the final loss to OSU's Siobhan Byrne (10-15) ... went on to place third at USFA North American Cup event in Richmond , Va. (Dec. '06), behind national-teamers Sada Jacobson and Becca Ward (another product of the OFA) ... the nine fencers above her in the USFA rankings (Dec. 11, 2006) include: Zagunis, Ward, Jacobson, PSU's Caitlin Thompson (also from OFA), former Columbia fencer Emma Baratta, Dagmara Wozniak, former Rutgers standout Alexis Jemal ('03 NCAA champ), Elaine Hassett (yet another OFA fencer and a signee who will join the Irish in 2007-08) and OSU's Eileen Grench ... one of 39 student-athletes (including six other fencers) who are invited participants in the Notre Dame athletics Academic Honors Program (faculty mentoring) ... her recent international results include the best World Cup finish of her career, 13th at event in Klagenfurt , Austria (June '05) ... bested former World Cup medalist Sandra Benad of Germany in the pool rounds at that World Cup (5-1) before topping England 's Rosalind Hull in the round-of-32 (15-3) and 2004 Olympian Madoka Hisage of Japan in the round-of-16 ... also placed 19th at a '05 World Cup in Vancouver , (summer '05) and was 29th at that event in June of '06.
IN THE RECORD BOOKS: Already one of 10 all-time Notre Dame women's fencers to post three of more All-America finishes and could join six former greats - Molly Sullivan, Myriah Brown, Sara Walsh, Magda Krol, Alicja Kryczalo and Andrea Ament - as a rare four-year All-American (would be first to do so in women's sabre) ... Notre Dame athletics history includes just 24 four-year All-Americans (nine men's fencers) ... joined former teammate and foil standout Kryczalo ('02 champ) as one of five Notre Dame fencers ever to win NCAAs as a freshman (first in sabre), with others including men's epeeist Bjorn Vaggo ('78), men's foilist Charles Higgs-Coulthard ('84) and Krol in epee ('97) ... enters senior season with the second-best career winning percentage in Notre Dame women's sabre history (.859; 15th among all ND women's weapons), behind Zagunis (.962) ... her 140-23 career record also represents the second-most wins in ND women's sabre history, just 26 behind record-holder Destanie Milo ... needs 39 wins in 2007 to crack the ND top-10 for career women's fencing wins ... a top-four finish at the 2007 NCAAs would make her the sixth Notre Dame women's fencer to earn first team All-America honors (top-four) three-plus times ... her career round-robin record in the NCAAs (52-16) includes the ninth-most wins by any ND women's fencer (needs 12 wins in '07 to reach the top-4), also ranking seventh all-time among Irish women's fencers in NCAA career win pct. (.822).
AS A JUNIOR: Won 87 percent of her regular season bouts (54-8; third-most wins ever by an ND women's sabre fencer) before an equally strong postseason that included finishing as the Midwest Fencing Conference runner-up, placing third at the Midwest Regional and earning All-America honors at the NCAAs for the third time in her career (9th) ... received the Notre Dame fencing program's prestigious Langford Leadership Award, the Rockne Student-Athlete Award and the Bednarski Award, in recognition of women's sabre leadership ... opened 17-1 at the Northwestern Duals, followed by an 11-4 record at the NYU Duals that included a 5-3 win over Columbia 's Baratta and victories over St. John's fencers Kasia Wieronski (5-0) and Olga Ovtchinnikova (5-4) ... followed with 11-3 mark at the ND Duals and 15-0 at the UCSD Duals (5-3 win over Stanford's Eva Jellison avenged earlier loss) ... her final two MFC bouts included a 15-10 semifinal win over Ohio State 's Grench and a loss in the final to OSU's Byrne (12-15) ... lost to her teammate Zagunis in the Regional semifinal (13-15, in Cleveland) before beating Wayne State's Katarzyna Kuzniak in the 3rd-place bout ... her 8-6 record on day-1 of NCAAs (in Houston) included 5-3 win over SJU's Wieronski and 5-2 wins over Harvard's Wright and Alexa Weingarden ... posted best record (7-2) of any Notre Dame fencer during day-2 of NCAAs, for 9th-place finish (15-8) ... her final wins included rallying from a 4-1 deficit versus Penn State 's Hiss (rematch of '04 NCAA title bout), plus top bouts with OSU's Grench (5-3), Stanford's Jellison (5-1) and WSU's Kuzniak (5-4) ... reached semifinals at Penn State Open in fall of '05, topping OSU's Amelia Galliard in the quarterfinals (15-8) before losing to Kuzniak in semifinals (12-15) and losing by same score in 3rd-place bout with Grench ... her various USFA results spanning 2005-06 included placing ninth at a N.A.C. event in Chattanooga, Tenn. (April '05), reaching the semifinals at the 2005 Summer Nationals ( Sacramento , Calif.), three top-10 N.A.C. finishes - sixth in Pittsburgh (Dec. '05), 10th in Houston (Jan. '06) and seventh in Sacramento (April '06) - plus sixth at 2006 Summer Nationals, in Atlanta .
AS A SOPHOMORE: Capped strong second season with gutsy performance at the NCAAs (in Houston), overcoming illness to finish second in women's sabre round-robin (19-4) as Notre Dame stormed back from 24-point deficit to edge Ohio State for national title (173-171) ... posted 47-9 record in regular season, good for fourth on the ND women's sabre single-season wins list (8th in win pct.)... won MFC title and was Regional runner-up (held at Wayne State ) while being named women's fencing team's co-MVP for '04-'05 (also co-MVP of women's sabre squad) ... was tied for third after 10-4 showing on first day of NCAAs, with top wins over OSU's Galliard (5-3), the SJU pair of All-American Christina Crane (5-3) and Wieronski (5-2), and two other All-Americans in Penn's Katelyn Sherry (5-3) and Duke's Ibtihaj Muhammad (5-2) ... won her final 14 round-robin bouts for 19-4 record that trailed only her ND teammates Zagunis and Kryczalo (both 21-2) among the top win totals in the entire NCAA field (three men's fencers had more than 19 wins) ... combined with Zagunis for fourth-most wins (40) by teammates (men's or women's) in the NCAAs since 23-bout format began in '96 ... helped compile most wins (103-35) ever by a women's fencing team in NCAA competition ... combined with Zagunis (8-1) to go 17-1 on final day, setting stage for historic rally ... opened Sunday bouts with 5-2 win over Fullerton 's Rachel Liebing before two huge wins over the Columbia fencers, besting Baratta (5-2) and eventual champion Emily Jacobson (5-3) ... her next round included 5-3 win over Harvard's Wright (the 6th-place finisher), plus victories over her teammate Weingarden (5-4) and Cornell's Ivana Zgaljic (5-1) ... closed with wins over Drew's Emma Nostrand (5-1) and the PSU duo of Laura Hillstrom (5-1) and Hiss (5-1) ... nearly repeated her earlier win against Jacobson in semifinals (13-15) before draining two-day stretch ended with 11-15 loss to OSU's Byrne in 3rd-place bout, repeating as first team All-American with 4th-place finish ... secured spot in NCAAs with runner-up Regional finish (9-2), finishing above her #5 seed thanks to wins over OSU's Byrne (5-2) and Grench (5-3) ... won MFC title by defeating Northwestern's Mai Van Vu in final (15-2), after 15-8 semifinal with NU's Lauren Van Gieson ... her 9-3 mark at NYU Duals included 5-4 wins over OSU's Gaillard and Columbia 's Baratta ... added 27-5 record at ND Duals, with her wins over Hiss (5-3) and Hillstrom (5-0) helping the Irish women top Penn State (16-11) ... also had NDD wins over CSF's Liebing (5-3), Northwestern's Van Gieson (5-1) and OSU's Byrne (5-3; helping Irish take top ranking from the Buckeyes, 16-11) ... closed regular season 11-1 record at Duke Duals ... won Penn State Open in fall of '04, earning #3 seed after 13-2 pool record before topping Yale's Guss (15-5; round-of-16), PSU's Ashley Gin Fong in quarterfinals, Harvard's Wright in semifinals and OSU's Byrne in 15-10 final ... other events in fall of '04 included Junior World Cups in Poland (33rd) and Louisville , Ky. (10th), plus N.A.C. in Richmond , Va. (13th) ... competed in January of '05 at Junior World Cup in Budapest and placed third at N.A.C. in Overland Park , Kan. (behind Ward and Wozniak) after topping OSU's Grench in round-of-16 and edging Daria Schneider in 15-14 quarterfinal.
AS A FRESHMAN: Opened with 39-6 record in regular season (.867, 4th-best in ND women's sabre history) before finishing as MFC runner-up, taking fifth at Regional and winning NCAA title ... named Notre Dame women's sabre co-MVP... opened NCAAs at Brandeis with 12-2 record, posting wins over Penn's Sherry and Annika Eiremo (both 5-4), PSU's Heather Brosnan (5-1) and the OSU duo of Louise Bond-Williams (5-1) and Marguerite Plekhanov (5-3) ... other top roundrobin wins came vs. Northwestern's Van Gieson (5- 0) and Temple 's Aziza Hassan (5-3) ... finished third in the '04 NCAA round-robin (18-4) before stunning comeback to beat Bond-Williams (the '02 NCAA runner-up and a World Championship quarterfinalist) in 15-14 semifinal ... used patient approach and risky "4-parry riposte" for key touches in that bout, battling back from 8-12 and 12-14 deficits ... faced converted foil fencer Hiss of Penn State in NCAA final (they had fenced each other at a youth foil event) ... Hiss, a tall lefthander with good control, had defeated Providenza in the round-robin (5-1) but she fell into an early 7-4 hole and lost the final six points as Providenza used two main actions and a slower pace to claim the gold ... seeded second at Regional but placed fifth, with 5-4 win over Bond-Williams (at Northwestern) ... beat Northwestern's Lauren Dunn (15-5) and Van Gieson (15-6) in MFC quarterfinals and semifinals before losing to Bond-Williams in final (8-15) ... started 7-0 at Northwestern Duals, with 5-1 win over Temple 's Hassan ... swept hosts at Penn State (5-3 vs. Brosnan) ... her 10-3 mark at NYU Duals included 5-3 win over SJU's Crane plus win over Columbia 's Veronica Padula (for 12-11 team score; 14-13 win) ... won decisive bout vs. OSU's Siebert at ND Duals, giving Irish 14-13 win (also beat Plekhanov, 5-2) ... her 19-2 record at ND Duals included 5-2 win over NU's Dunn ... beat Vincent in 3rd-place bout at Penn State Open (fall '03) before placing 10th at N.A.C. in Palm Springs ... won 2004 Junior Olympics (Cleveland), besting Sarah Parker in 15-8 quarterfinal, longtime friend Galliard in semifinals (15-14) and Grench in 15-9 final.
PREP & PERSONAL: Attended Jesuit High School along with Vincent while fencing at Oregon Fencing Alliance , coached by former Notre Dame assistant Edward Korfanty ... won 2003 Junior Olympic title ( Colorado Springs ) and N.A.C. event in San Diego (also 2nd at '02 JWC in Louisville ; 10th at '01 JWC in Arriccia , Italy ) ... finished third in d-1 classification at '01 N.A.C. in Palm Springs ... involved in acting, singing and ballet before taking up fencing at age of 10 ... fenced foil and epee prior to OFA becoming sabre-only academy ... daughter of John and Bonnie Providenza ... full name is Valerie Claire Providenza ... born March 11, 1985, in Portland , Ore. ... psychology and Spanish major, in College of Arts and Letters.