Feb. 28, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams rode the momentum from a dominant first day of the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships into a second day rife with titles Sunday at the Castellan Family Fencing Center.
The No. 2 Fighting Irish men repeated as ACC Champions in the team competition, while the Irish women swiped two of the three individual titles. The Irish also boasted the men’s tournament Most Valuable Fencer, freshman foil champion Axel Kiefer.
“[This] momentum is the most important thing,” head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said. “After wins like this against strong teams, it’s going to be really important to just continue to ride that wave to the next event.
“We’re honored to be in this conference, and we’re always going to fight for first place.”
Women’s Individual Championships
The Irish women picked up two of the individual weapon titles for the second straight year, while a total of six women earned medals.
Notre Dame’s dominant foil squad claimed all four semifinal spots after pool play, ensuring an all-Irish podium. Pool play was highlighted by freshman Sabrina Massialas’ undefeated mark as the Irish phenom did not give up more than two touches in 15 five-touch bouts in the round robin.
Massialas met No. 4-seeded senior Nicole McKee (10-5) in the first semifinal, while No. 2 freshman Elyssa Kleiner (13-2) and No. 3 sophomore Zoe Loh (10-5) tangled in the other. Massialas was again dominant, defeating McKee 15-4, but the second final berth was not as quickly determined. Kleiner and Loh battled back and forth before necessitating overtime at 12-12. Kleiner scored the next touch to take the match 13-12.
The final between Massialas and Kleiner featured intrigue, as Kleiner took a 10-5 lead before Massialas roared back to make it 12-11 and went on to win 15-13 to snare her first ACC championship.
In the foil consolation, McKee snatched the bronze after a 15-8 victory over Loh.
Senior Catherine Lee became the second straight Irish fencer to win an individual epee title, scoring two upsets as the No. 4 seed en route to the crown. Lee defeated No. 1 seed Renee Bichette of Boston College 15-12 in the semifinal to earn the berth. In the opposite semifinal, freshman Madeline Antekeier fell to No. 3 seed Olivia Adragna of Boston College.
Freshman Madeline Antekeier (12-3) joined Lee (11-4) in the semifinals of the epee competition, taking the No. 2. In a one-touch bout, Antekeier fell to Boston College’s Olivia Adragna. Antekeier went on to defeat Bichette 14-8 in the consolation match to claim bronze for the Irish.
In sabre, the Irish took the top two seeds as sophomore Francesca Russo posted a 14-1 record for the No. 1 designation and Hassett went 12-3 for the second seed. Hassett made quick work of Duke’s Haley Fisher, winning 15-8 to secure her berth to the final, but Russo was one of two No. 1 seeds to fall in the semifinal on the day, losing to Duke’s Jennifer Ling 15-9.
In the final, Hassett led 8-7 midway through the bout, but Ling outscored her 8-4 through the second half to win 15-12 and claim the title. Hassett finished with the silver while Russo claimed fourth after falling in the consolation match to Fisher.
Men’s Team Championship
The Irish got off to a quick start, besting Boston College 23-4 in the first match of the round robin. John Hallsten (sabre), sophomore Virgile Collineau (foil), senior Kristjan Archer (foil) and sophomore Nicholas Hanahan (epee) each went 3-0 against the Eagles, while sophomore Jonah Shainberg (sabre) and John Crumpler (foil) were also undefeated at 2-0.
In the next match, Notre Dame faced off with North Carolina for the second time this season, defeating the Tar Heels 19-8 with strong showings in sabre and foil. Shainberg and Crumpler were both 3-0 in the match to lead the Irish.
Notre Dame met No. 9 Duke in the final match, both teams entering undefeated. On the strength of their foil squad, Notre Dame claimed a 19-8 victory, including a 9-0 showing in foil. Crumpler clinched the match at 14-7, going 3-0 in the match along with Collineau, while Kiefer was 2-0 and Archer added the ninth win.
Next up for the Irish is the NCAA Midwest Regional, which will be held March 12 at French Field House in Columbus, Ohio.
ACC Fencing Championships
February 27-28, 2016
Castellan Family Fencing Center
Notre Dame, Ind.
Women’s Individual Championships
 Jennifer Ling (DU) def.  Francesca Russo (ND) 15-9
 Tara Hassett (ND) def.  Haley Fisher (DU) 15-8
 Jennifer Ling (DU) def.  Tara Hassett (ND) 15-12
 Haley Fisher (DU) def.  Francesca Russo (ND) 15-12
 Sabrina Massialas (ND) def.  Nicole McKee (ND) 15-4
 Elyssa Kleinern (ND) def.  Zoe Loh (ND) 13-12
 Sabrina Massialas (ND) def.  Elyssa Kleiner (ND) 15-12
 Nicole McKee (ND) def.  Zoe Loh (ND) 15-8
 Catherine Lee (ND) def.  Renee Bichette (BC) 15-12
 Olivia Adragna (BC) def.  Madeline Antekeier (ND) 15-14
 Catherine Lee (ND) def.  Olivia Adragna (BC) 15-11
 Madeline Antekeier (ND) def.  Renee Bichette (BC) 14-8
Men’s Team Championship
No. 2 Notre Dame 23, Boston College 4
John Hallsten 3-0
Jonah Shainberg 2-0
Jonathan Fitzgerald 2-1
Ian Jones 0-1
Virgile Collineau 3-0
Kristjan Archer 3-0
John Crumpler 2-0
Axel Kiefer 1-0
Nicholas Hanahan 3-0
Dylan French 2-1
Darius Zacharakis 2-1
No. 2 Notre Dame 19, North Carolina 8
No. 2 Notre Dame 19, No. 9 Duke 8
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.