March 23, 2013
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The University of Notre Dame’s women fencing team gained important position in the overall standings Saturday on the first day of the women’s portion of the NCAA Championship at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas. Notre Dame (139 points) improved to second place behind Princeton (146 points) in the combined team competition.
Leading the way for the Irish was freshman foilist Lee Kiefer, who finished first in her weapon class with a record of 14-1. Kiefer narrowly claimed first place over Mona Shaito (Ohio State), who also recorded a 14-1 mark and had the same indicator as Kiefer (+45). Kiefer logged 74 touches to Shaito’s 71 heading into day two.
Kiefer began her first round by beating Notre Dame teammate Madison Zeiss 5-2 before losing a tough bout against her older sister Alex (Harvard) 5-4. Kiefer finished with a 6-1 record at the end of the first round of pool play. Zeiss went 5-2 in the first round, with her two losses coming against both of the Kiefer sisters.
In the second round of the women’s foil, Kiefer and Zeiss posted a 7-1 combined record, with Zeiss’s only loss coming against Jackie Dubrovich from Columbia/Barnard, 5-3. Kiefer narrowly defeated Dubrovich 5-4. Zeiss downed defending national champion Evgeniya Kirpicheva (St. John’s) earlier in the pool 5-2.
In the final round of the day, Kiefer swept both of her opponents from Penn State and Princeton, while Zeiss pulled off an overtime win against Ambika Singh (Princeton), 3-2. Zeiss, not far behind, finished the day in fourth place with an 11-4 record, an improvement over her 7-7 day one record as a freshman last year.
Several strips over, Courtney Hurley and Ewa Nelip displayed their expertise in epee, as both fencers went 6-1 in the first round. Nelip beat Margherita Guzzi-Vincenti (Penn State) 5-2, while Hurley posted her only loss of the round against Guzzi-Vincenti on the opposite end of a 5-2 score.
Hurley continued to roll in the second round, going 3-1, with the lone loss being handed down by her 2012 Olympic teammate Susannah Scanlan (Princeton) 4-3 in overtime. Hurley beat the Princeton’s other epeeist Katherine Holmes 5-3 to split the series. Nelip, battling hard to keep up her first round momentum, defeated both competitors from Pennsylvania but fell in two overtime bouts to Scanlan and Holmes, 4-3.
Beginning the last event of the day, experienced sabreuse Lian Osier started her first round with a 5-2 mark. Teammate Johanna Thill got off to somewhat of a slow start but recorded noteworthy wins over Duke’s Sean Cadley (5-1) and NYU’s Jackie Leval (5-2). Osier outlasted Tiki Kastar (Temple) 5-4 in the second round, and defeated North Carolina’s Gillian Litynski 5-2, to finish the pool 2-2. Thill also defeated Litynski 5-2.
Going into the final bouts of the day, Osier posted a 3-2 record to finish in seventh place with a 10-5 mark. Thill logged a key win over Allison Miller (Ohio State) 5-4 to finish day one 6-9, and in 15th place.
The NCAA Championship concludes Sunday, with bouting beginning at 9 a.m. (CT) inside the Freeman Coliseum. All three women’s weapon classes will be in action, with an awards ceremony to recognize the individual women’s champions and the combined NCAA champion immediately to follow.