Jan. 21, 2017
By Joanne Norell
QUEENS, N.Y. — The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams put forth strong showings against some of the nation’s top-ranked teams Saturday at the St. John’s Invitational. The Irish men, who entered the weekend ranked fourth in Friday’s most recent CollegeFencing360 Coaches Poll, went 3-2 on the day, while the No. 3 Irish women posted a 4-1 record.
How It Happened
The Irish saw their stiffest competition right from the start, facing No. 1 Columbia in the first dual of the day, but the Irish fell just short of the Lions in a 14-13 decision. The Irish owned a 6-3 advantage in epee and a 5-4 edge in foil, but Columbia took the match on the strength of their sabre squad, 7-2.
In the next match, the Irish defeated No. 3 Penn State 17-10, winning in all three weapons. Notre Dame also upended No. 7 Harvard 15-12 thanks to 6-3 records from both the epee and foil squads.
Notre Dame then fell to eighth-ranked St. John’s 15-12, winning foil 6-3, but falling by the same score in epee and sabre. The Irish closed out the day with a 14-13 victory over No.2 Ohio State, with a particularly strong showing at foil, winning that weapon group 7-2.
The Irish women met the same fate as the men in an identical 14-13 loss to top-ranked Columbia to start the day, but came back to win handily for the remainder of the day.
The Irish went on to defeat No. 5 Penn State 17-10, winning 5-4 in both epee and sabre and 7-2 in foil. The Irish then upended No. 7 Harvard 18-9, taking all three weapons by scores of 6-3. The Irish downed No. 10 St. John’s 20-7, winning 9-0 in foil, 6-3 in sabre and 5-4 in epee. Notre Dame finished the day with a 23-4 victory over No. 4 Ohio State, taking sabre 9-0, foil 8-1 and epee 6-3.
The Irish got a handful of outstanding performances from both men and women Saturday, including a trio of undefeated showings by their top fencers.
For the men, sophomore foilist Axel Kiefer went 12-0 on the day to lead the Irish and improve to 19-2 on the season. Freshman epeeist Ariel Simmons went 9-5, while senior foilist Kristjan Archer was 8-6 on the day. Sophomore epeeist Darius Zacharakis was 3-0 on the day, fencing in bouts against Penn State and Harvard.
On the women’s side, senior foilist Lee Kiefer went 12-0, fencing in her first dual competition of the year. Junior sabreuse Francesca Russo was also impressive, going 11-1 on the day. Sophomore epeeist Amanda Sirico posted a 12-3 record, while sophomore foilist Sabrina Massialas turned in a 9-3 mark.
The Irish will head into Manhattan on Sunday to conclude the weekend at the NYU Invitational, being held this year at Columbia University. The Irish will fence against St. John’s, NYU, Columbia and Wayne State.
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Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women's soccer, men's tennis, women's tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in mass communication, and earned her master's degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.