Nov. 21, 2015
By Joanne Norell
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The University of Notre Dame fencing program kicked off the regular season in fine fashion Saturday at the Penn Elite Invitational, with the Fighting Irish women sweeping the field 5-0 and the Irish men compiling a 4-1 record in duals against some of the nation’s best squads.
The Irish women defeated NJIT 24-3, Ohio State 16-11, Northwestern 14-13, Penn 17-10 and Princeton 18-9. The men upended NJIT 22-5, Ohio State 14-13, Air Force 21-6 and Princeton 16-11, but fell to the host Quakers 14-13 at the Coach Dave Micahnik Fencing Center.
The most impressive win of the day for the Irish women came against Northwestern with five Irish fencers notching at least two wins in their individual bouts. Freshman foilist Sabrina Massialas went 3-0 to lead the Irish against the Wildcats, while senior Nicole McKee was 2-1 in in foil. Senior Catherine Lee went 2-1 in epee, while sophomore Francesca Russo and freshman Tara Hassett also put together 2-1 records in the match. Junior Eva Niklinska went 1-1, but clinched the match for the Irish at 14-12 in epee.
The Irish men split their most important matches of the day defeating Ohio State while dropping a close match to Penn.
Freshman Axel Kiefer and sophomore Virgile Collineau were each undefeated in foil against the Buckeyes, while John Hallston was 2-1 in sabre for Notre Dame. But it was senior Garrett McGrath (epee) who clinched the match in its final bout with a 4-3 overtime win against Oliver Shindler.
Against Penn, the Irish jumped out to a 10-8 lead, but the Quakers rattled off six straight wins en route to a 16-11 victory.
Several Irish fencers will compete in USA Fencing North American Cup events in December and January before Notre Dame returns to the strip as a team at the DeCicco Duals in mid-January. The Irish will host the annual event January 16-17, 2016 at the Castellan Family Fencing Center.
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.