Feb. 8, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Beginning at 10:00 a.m. and wrapping up at 4:45 p.m., the University of Notre Dame fencing team had much to be proud of at the first annual DeCicco Duals. With a record-breaking attendance mark of 698 against Penn State, the Irish live-streamed their first home bouts successfully, with the women's squad upending the Nittany Lions 14-13.
"I think we fared very well - especially with the women's team, who did a great job of creating excitement on the floor. We can be happy about this, especially our win against Penn State," Irish head coach Janusz Bednarski says. "On the men's side, we struggled against Penn State - perhaps the best in the nation at this time - but we are rebuilding a new team at this point and it takes time for that chemistry to form."
After having a bye in the 9:00 a.m. round, the Irish got underway against Midwest Fencing Conference foe Cleveland State. The men easily out-touched the Vikings, with both sabre and epee posting 9-0 scores. The foil team went 8-1, as Alan Markow was out-touched 5-1 versus Phelan Spence. The women's team was also impressive, winning by a score of 25-2, with the foil team remaining undefeated.
Moving on to Northwestern, both squads posted matching sores of 20-7. Men's epee used a familiar rotation of Garrett McGrath, Conrad Sutter and Arthur Le Meur, with a last-minute substitute Dale Purdy coming in for the final bout of the round. The epeeists kept it close, but were unable to hold off the Wildcats, who surged ahead 5-4. On the women's side, the epee repetition of captain Ashley Severson, Catherine Lee and Nicole Ameli posted a perfect 9-0 round.
Squaring off against Wayne State after the lunch hour, both teams won handily - the men, 22-5 and the women, 23-4. The match finished just in time for Notre Dame's Fighting Irish Digital Media crew to get set for a live broadcast of the Penn State matches - a first for the Irish program.
"It's a great, great opportunity for our program - especially the end of the women's match at two, with Audrey Camacho going touch for touch in a thrilling victory," Bednarski comments about the live stream.
"Everyone liked it, even the coach from Penn State; he came to me afterwards and said `While I don't like to lose, I like this format of streaming.' So a big thank you to the media people that make this possible for our team, as their efforts go hand in hand with our focus of making the sport more audience-friendly."
With the men and women fencing at separate times, the women's team started at 2:00 p.m. In sabre, sophomore Johanna Thill was undefeated, earning all three wins for the Irish. Moving on to epee, both Ameli and Severson logged 2-1 marks, with Lee providing a crucial 5-3 win over Stanley in the third round. With all three Irish epeeists earning third round bout wins, the team score stood at 10-8 in favor of the Nittany Lions.
All eyes turned to the women's foil strips, where the Irish were fencing without their star pupil Lee Kiefer - who was away at international competitions this weekend. Adriana Camacho started the class with a 5-0 defeat of Antokhina, but Nicole McKee and Madison Zeiss struggled to keep her momentum going. Moving into the second round, all three women won their bouts, leaving the score tied, 12-12.
Heading in to the third and final round of the match, McKee lost, 5-3, but Zeiss out-dueled Antokhina 5-0, leaving the score tied at 13-13. Camacho went head to head with Gladnick, and held on to won 5-3 as time expired, putting her team ahead in the final score, 14-13.
The men's team unfortunately did not fare as well as the women did, losing 18-9 in their 3:00 p.m. bouts. The foil team had several impressive wins, notching the only winning mark of the round, 5-4.
In the last round of the day, the Irish finished strong, posting 20-7 (men's) and 24-3 (women's) wins against the Detroit Titans.
Action continues tomorrow in day two of the DeCicco Duals, as Notre Dame prepares to host Chicago, Purdue and Bradley. The first bouts start at 11:00 a.m, with a full recap available at und.com/fencing.