CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The University of Notre Dame fencing team was practically perfect on the first day of the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships on Saturday at the Conte Forum at Boston College. The top-ranked Irish swept all possible titles, first sweeping the women’s individual competition in the morning before claiming the men’s team title in the afternoon.
The Irish saw three freshman women take home championship hardware — Amita Berthier in foil, Kara Linder in sabre and Miriam Grady in epee — while a pair of seniors snagged runner-up honors in Elyssa Kleiner (foil) and Molly Hudson (epee). The men followed by defeating all three of their ACC opponents by an average score of 21-6 for their fourth conference championship in the last five seasons.
The Irish sent eight individuals to the semifinal rounds after 15 bouts of round robin fencing. Freshman Amita Berthier was spotless through pools, claiming the top seed in women’s foil, while classmate Kara Linder (sabre) and senior Molly Hudson (epee) also earned No. 1 seeds. Joining Berthier in the elimination rounds were seniors Elyssa Kleiner (No. 2 seed) and Sabrina Massialas (No. 4 seed), while sophomore Reghan Ward (No. 2 seed) and junior Natalie Disher (No. 4 seed) advanced in sabre and freshman Miriam Grady (No. 3 seed) moved on in epee.
Linder handed Disher a 15-6 defeat in the semifinal to face North Carolina’s Jacqueline Litynski in the championship bout. She again won by that 15-6 score, claiming her first collegiate championship.
Hudson and Grady each won close semifinal bouts to advance to the championship, with Hudson defeating North Carolina’s Justine De Grasse 15-12 and Grady besting Duke’s Maria Papadopoulos 15-13. In the final, Grady coasted to a 15-7 victory, becoming the second freshman to claim a title on the day.
The women’s foil final also featured a pair of Irish competitors, with Berthier meeting Kleiner for the championship. Berthier had bested Massialas 15-7 in the semifinal, while Kleiner clipped Duke’s Zoe Superville 15-14 to make her second straight final. In the championship, it was Berthier who stayed perfect, winning by a score of 15-9 over Kleiner.
Ward placed third after downing Disher in the sabre consolation, while Massialas fell in a tight 15-14 decision to Superville in her bronze medal match.
The Irish men defeated Boston College 23-4 to kick off the afternoon session, sweeping the foil lineup and going 8-1 in epee. In the match, Notre Dame saw 3-0 performances from Stephen Ewart and Darius Zacharakis in epee; Joseph Marino and Andrew Machovec in foil; and Malcolm Fields in sabre.
They followed it up with a 21-6 victory over North Carolina led by 3-0 marks from Nick Itkin and Axel Kiefer in foil and Arsenii Panteleev in sabre.
The marquee matchup of the day came in the third round against No. 6 Duke, which had defeated the Irish 14-13 in their last regular-season outing at the Northwestern Duals on Feb. 2. This time, however, the Irish leapt to a 10-1 lead en route to the 20-7 victory. The Irish got the clinching point from freshman Machovec, who became the latest in the line of Irish rookies to make a statement with his 8-1 performance on the day.
What They Said
Kara Linder on winning the women’s sabre title as a freshman…
“Winning an ACC title as a freshman is a really unique experience. There’s such a positive team environment at Notre Dame fencing and so much support from my teammates. Of course in an individual competition, it’s hard to fence your teammates, but these people are still so supportive no matter what happens.
Amita Berthier on the strength of the team…
“(Having three freshmen win) shows we’re an extremely strong team no matter what. We give our best, fight our hardest and even though we are freshmen doesn’t mean we can’t win titles. We have even better recruits coming in and I think we have a very strong future.
Grady on fencing your teammates…
“I think it makes it harder because you kind of have to remove yourself from it. You’re used to fencing them in practice every day and it’s just a different mindset.”
ACC Fencing Championships
February 23-24, 2019
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Women’s Individual Championships
 Kara Linder (ND) def.  Natalie Disher (ND) 15-6
 Jacqueline Litynski (UNC) def.  Reghan Ward (ND) 15-13
 Kara Linder (ND) def.  Jacqueline Litynski (UNC) 15-6
 Reghan Ward (ND) def.  Natalie Disher (ND) 15-9
Final Sabre Standings
1. Kara Linder
2. Jacqueline Litynski
3. Reghan Ward
 Amita Berthier (ND) def.  Sabrina Massialas (ND) 15-7
 Elyssa Kleiner (ND) def.  Zoe Superville (DU) 15-14
 Amita Berthier (ND) def.  Elyssa Kleiner (ND) 15-9
 Zoe Superville (DU) def.  Sabrina Massialas (ND) 15-14
Final Foil Standings
1. Amita Berthier
2. Elyssa Kleiner
3. Zoe Superville
 Molly Hudson (ND) def.  Justine De Grasse (UNC) 15-12
 Miriam Grady (ND) def.  Maria Papadopoulos (DU) 15-13
 Miriam Grady (ND) def.  Molly Hudson (ND) 15-8
Final Epee Standings
1. Miriam Grady
2. Molly Hudson
3. Maria Papadopoulous
Men’s Team Championship
No. 1 Notre Dame 23, Boston College 4
Epee (8-1): Stephen Ewart 3-0, Darius Zacharakis 3-0, Dylan French 2-1
Foil (9-0): Joseph Marino 3-0, Andrew Machovec 3-0, Nick Itkin 2-0, Axel Kiefer 1-0
Sabre (6-3): Malcolm Fields 3-0, Alessandro Contreras 2-0, Jared Smith 0-1, Arsenii Panteleev 1-2,
No. 1 Notre Dame 21, North Carolina 6
Epee (6-3): Zacharakis 2-1, Simmons 2-1, French 2-1
Foil (8-1): Itkin 3-0, Kiefer 3-0, Machovec 2-1
Sabre (7-2): Panteleev 3-0, Contreras 2-1, Fields 1-1, Smith 1-0
No. 1 Notre Dame 20, No. 6 Duke 7
Epee (8-1): Zacharakis 3-0, French 3-0, Ewart 2-1
Foil (7-2): Machovec 3-0, Itkin 2-1, Kiefer 2-1
Sabre (5-4): Smith 3-0, Contreras 1-2, Panteleev 1-2
The Irish will be back on the strip Sunday, when the men compete for the individual championships and the women vie for the team title. Men’s individual action begins at 7 a.m. ET, with championship bouts slated for 11:30 a.m. on ACC Network Extra. The women’s team championship will follow and coverage will last throughout the event.
— ND —