CLEVELAND — The University of Notre Dame fencing program added a pair of medalists to its ranks Sunday on the final day of competition at the 2019 National Collegiate Fencing Championships, as Amanda Sirico claimed silver in women’s epee and Amita Berthier snared bronze in women’s foil at Cleveland State’s Wolstein Center.
The Irish finished with 165 points in the team competition, good for third place behind champion Columbia (178) and runner-up Penn State (166). They finished the tournament with seven All-Americans, including medalists in men’s foil champion Nick Itkin, men’s foil runner-up Axel Kiefer, Sirico and Berthier.
Sirico advanced to the championship bout in women’s epee for the first time in her career, but fell 5-3 in a priority bout to Columbia’s Anne Cebula. Berthier fell 15-12 to ultimate women’s foil champion Sylvie Binder of Columbia.
How It Happened
Amita Berthier earned the No. 4 seed after five rounds of stellar fencing, amassing a 17-5 record (an injury withdrawal voided a win recorded Saturday). Facing Binder in the semifinal, Berthier fell behind 1-8 before outscoring Binder 6-4 to end the first period down 7-12. She picked up the first four touches of the second period to pull within 11-12 and again came within one at 12-13, but Binder pulled out the final two touches to take the bout. Berthier’s third-place finish made her a First Team All-American and was the highest placement for an Irish women’s foilist since Sabrina Massialas also finished third in 2016.
Massialas finished the 2019 tournament with a 15-7 mark, placing fifth for a Second Team All-American citation. It was the fourth All-American honor of her career, making her the 30th four-time All-American in program history.
Sirico advanced to her first NCAA championship bout, having finished third in both of her previous appearances. Her runner-up showing was the highest of her career, and she became a First Team All-American for the third time.
In the semifinal bout, Sirico faced off with No. 4 seed Tatijana Stewart from Princeton, taking a 3-0 lead after one period and a 6-2 edge after two. In the third period, Stewart pulled within 8-7, after which the pair traded points and double-touches, but a red card issued to Stewart in the final 10 seconds for running into Sirico a second time gave Sirico a 13-11 advantage, which she parlayed into a 14-12 victory.
Fencing Columbia’s No. 3-seeded Anne Cebula in the final, Sirico saw the bout go to overtime after passivity calls in each of the first three periods had the score knotted at 0-0. Sirico and Cebula double-touched to open the priority period before Sirico took a 2-1 lead, but Cebula (with priority) tied it at 2-all in the final 15 seconds and nabbed another three touches on Sirico’s attempts to regain the lead.
Sirico finished the round robin with a 19-4 mark, going 7-1 Sunday to advance to the final four as the top seed.
Miriam Grady finished 11-12 on the weekend, placing 15th in her first career NCAA appearance.
Each of the Irish women’s sabre contestants rose three spots in the standings to close out the competition. Freshman Kara Linder finished in eighth place — good for Second Team All-America honors — after going 5-3 on Sunday and 13-10 overall. Senior Tara Hassett went 12-11 over the weekend and finished in 11th place with her third career All-America recognition on the third team.
National Collegiate Fencing Championships
March 21-24, 2019
Wolstein Center | Cleveland State
Women’s Competition (March 23-24)
2. Amanda Sirico, 19-4 (+29)*
15. Miriam Grady, 11-12 (+9)
T3. Amita Berthier, 17-5 (+35)*
5. Sabrina Massialas, 15-7 (+28)**
8. Kara Linder, 13-10 (+21)**
11. Tara Hassett, 12-11 (+12)***
Men’s Competition (March 21-22)
11. Ariel Simmons, 12-11 (+4)
21. Stephen Ewart, 9-14 (-15)
1. Nick Itkin 19-4 (+57)*
2. Axel Kiefer 19-4 (+47)*
15. Alessandro Contreras 10-13 (-16)
20. Arsenii Panteleev 9-14 (-30)
* First Team All-American
** Second Team All-American
*** Third Team All-American
1. Columbia 178
2. Penn State 166
3. Notre Dame 165
4. Harvard 150
5. St. John’s 127