March 7, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -The Fighting Irish men’s and women’s fencing teams each earned outright Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Championship titles, enabling Notre Dame to claim the overall MFC championship for the first time since 2002 on Sunday afternoon.
Bolstered by gold medal finishes in men’s foil, men’s sabre, women’s epee and women’s sabre, the Irish finished with 660 points to edge perennial MFC rival Ohio State by 15 points, as the Buckeyes finished with 645 points. Northwestern finished third with 545 points. In addition to halting Ohio State’s overall conference championship win streak at seven years, Notre Dame claimed the men’s title for the first time since 2002 as well. The Irish women won their first MFC Championship since 2005.
Notre Dame’s first gold medal winning performance of the day was turned in by the women’s sabre squad, which entered the competition seeded second. They blanked their first and second round opponents of Case Western and Detroit by 5-0 scores. In the Semifinals, the Irish kept their clean slate going with a 5-0 win over third-seeded Northwestern to set up a championship showdown with Ohio State. In the final, the Irish fell in an early 2-0 hole but freshman Abigail Nichols (Concord, Mass.) got Notre Dame on the board with a 5-1 win over Falencia Miller. Sarah Borrmann (Beaverton, Ore.) tied the match at 2-2 with a win over Tschomakova of OSU. Then Nichols added her second victory of the match – over Allison Miller – to stake the Irish to a 3-2 lead. Next, Hassett edged F. Miller in a crucial bout to give the Irish a 4-2 lead. After the Buckeyes won one more, Borrmann downed F. Miller, 5-3, to clinch the gold.
The Irish men’s sabre team earned Notre Dame’s second gold of the day in front of a raucous crowd inside the Joyce Center, also via a 5-3 win over the Buckeyes. The Irish, seeded first entering the tournament, advanced to the semifinals with 5-0 wins over Bowling Green, Purdue and Wisconsin. In the finals, the Irish jumped out to a 2-0 lead, courtesy of Barron Nydam’s (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.) 5-2 win over Max Stearns and Avery Zuck’s (Beaverton, Ore.) 5-3 win over Douville. After Ohio State rattled off three wins to take a 3-2 lead, the Irish countered with three straight wins to clinch the gold. Jason Choy (Basking Ridge, N.J.) earned the first of those wins with a 5-3 victory over Douville. Zuck earned the fourth Irish victory, beating Bryan Cheney, 5-4, in a thrilling bout. Choy registered the clinching victory with a 5-2 win over Stearns.
The first-seeded Notre Dame women’s epee team earned the third Irish gold on the day, capturing the title with an impressive 5-1 victory over second-seeded Northwestern. The Irish advanced to the finals with a 5-0 victory over Iowa in the first round, a 5-2 victory over Michigan in the quarterfinals, and a 5-2 victory over Michigan State in the semifinals. In the final, the Irish got off a great start, jumping out to a 4-0 lead. Diane Zielinski (Bernardsville, N.J.) earned the first Irish victory of the final, beating Kayley French, 4-3. Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) followed with a 5-2 victory over Joanne Niklinska before her sister, Courtney Hurley, took to the strip to defeat Christa French, 4-3. Kelley Hurley then earned the fourth Irish victory of the match with a 5-3 win over Kayley French. Following a Northwestern win, Courtney Hurley clinched the championship for the Irish by shutting out Niklinska, 5-0.
The Irish men’s foil team earned Notre Dame’s final gold of the day with a 5-2 win over Ohio State. The Irish, who entered the day seeded first, advanced to the finals with 5-0 victories over Case Western, Cleveland State and Michigan. In the finals, the Irish fell behind 1-0 before Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) evened the score with a 5-2 victory over Joe Streb. Following an Ohio State victory, Meinhardt again evened up the match with a 5-2 victory over Ben Parkins. Zach Schirtz (Rochester, N.Y.) then gave the Irish a lead they would never relinquish with an emotional 5-0 win against Colin Sutter. Enzo Castellani (Keller, Texas) kept the momentum going, beating Streb 5-2. Meinhardt then clinched the men’s foil gold, the overall men’s title and the overall team title for the Irish with a 5-2 victory over Sutter.
In men’s epee, the Irish earned a second place finish, falling 5-4 to Ohio State in the finals. The Irish entered the day seeded second and advanced to the semifinals courtesy of 5-2 victories over Iowa and Cleveland State. In the semifinals, the Irish beat third-seeded Michigan, also by a 5-2 score. In the finals, the Irish jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead, as James Kaull (Washington D.C.) beat Igor Tolkachev 4-3. The Irish then lost the next two before rattling off three straight wins to take a 4-2 lead. The first win came from Kaull (5-4 over Marco Canevari). Greg Schoolcraft (San Jose, Calif.) followed with a 5-3 win over Tolkachev, before Jacob Osborne (Colleyville, Texas) beat Trever Pedersen 5-0. Needing just one more win to secure the gold, the Irish fell short as Ohio State took the next three bouts to claim men’s epee gold.
The Irish women’s foil team placed third on the day, thanks to a 5-1 victory over Wayne State in the third-place match. The Irish, who entered the day seeded second, advanced to the semifinals with 5-0 wins over Iowa and Purdue. In the semifinals, the Notre Dame fell 5-3 to third-seeded Northwestern. They rebounded to beat Wayne State, thanks in large part to Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky.) and Darsie Malynn (Grapevine, Texas), who each registered two wins during the match.
Off to a great start in postseason play following an unbeaten regular season, the Irish continue their quest for a national championship on Saturday, March 13 as they take part in the NCAA Midwest Regional. The regional will be hosted by Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Check back with UND.com for a preview of the two-day event as the Irish try to qualify the maximum 12 fencers for the 2010 NCAA Championship.