Ewa Nelip, fencing at Notre Dame in 2013

Irish Reclaim Midwest Fencing Conference Championships Team Crown

March 3, 2013

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Using four gold-medal efforts and appearances in all six weapon finals, the University of Notre Dame fencing team captured the 2013 Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Championships title Sunday at the Castellan Family Fencing Center.

The Irish men successfully defended their 2012 title, winning both the foil and sabre finals and finishing second in epee to conclude with 795 points. The women avenged last season’s third-place finish with the top honor this year, claiming gold in both foil and epee with a silver-medal performance in sabre to match the men’s total of 795 points.

Overall, the Irish claimed the title by 30 points over Ohio State (1,560 points) with their 1,590-point total. The top two teams ran away from the rest of the field after squaring off in the finals of each of the six weapon specialties. Northwestern rounded out the top three, earning bronze with 1,350 points.

The most dominant weapon for Notre Dame came from the women’s foil squad. The Irish did not allow a point in either of their first two bouts, winning 5-0 over both Case Western and Iowa. After battling by Wayne State (5-2), the rotation of Grace Hartman, Madison Zeiss and Nicole McKee posted a 5-0 shutout of Ohio State to clinch the title. Hartman earned the clinching point, defeating Mona Shaito with a shutout of her own, 5-0.

Not to be outdone, the second-seeded men’s foil squad set up a meeting with the top-seeded Buckeyes after earning victories over Illinois (5-1), Northwestern (5-0) and Wayne State (5-2) in early-round action. Ohio State jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the final, but two victories by Ariel DeSmet and one by Nick Kubik swung the score in favor of the Irish, 3-2. Ohio State’s Sam Hardwicke-Brown knocked off Grant Hodges to even the contest, but matching 5-2 victories for DeSmet and Kubik over Zain Shaito and Hardwicke-Brown, respectively, secured the 5-3 victory for the Irish.

Despite the dominance of both Irish foil squads, Notre Dame’s men’s sabre squad actually claimed the first gold of the day, defeating the Buckeyes 5-3 in the finals. The top-seeded Irish set up the contest with three consecutive 5-1 wins over Oberlin, Wayne State and Michigan. In the finals, both teams traded streaks before the Irish reeled off the final three decisions to close out the 5-3 victory. Individual silver medalist John Hallsten clinched the bout win with his 5-0 shutout of Andrew McDonald. Hallsten and Kevin Hassett each finished the bout with 2-1 records, while Jason Choy concluded 1-1.

The final gold for the Irish saw the women’s epee squad earn a nail-biting 5-4 victory over third-seeded Ohio State. Nicole Ameli and Ewa Nelip got Notre Dame out of the gates with a 2-0 lead, before the Buckeyes claimed the next three matches to take the lead. After an Ashley Severson 5-1 victory over Tasha Domashovetz evened the match, the final three bouts would all reach overtime to determine the champion. Nelip fell in the first of the three (5-4) to bring the Buckeyes to championship point, but wins by Severson (3-2) and Ameli (5-4) completed an Irish comeback and weapon title.

The Irish men’s epee team and women’s sabre team also reached the weapon finals, but could not overcome Ohio State, falling in their respective title bouts 5-4 and 5-1. The epee squad was able to take a 4-3 lead in their bout with the Buckeyes after trailing early 2-0 and 3-1, but a pair of defeats in the eighth and ninth rounds saw Ohio State notch the come-from-behind victory. Sabre, meanwhile, was never able to get momentum in their title match, falling to the Buckeyes 5-1. Freshman Johanna Thill, Saturday’s individual women’s sabre champion, claimed the lone point in the contest for Notre Dame.

With MFC action complete, the Irish now turn their attention to the NCAA Midwest Regionals in hopes of qualifying the maximum 12 fencers for the 2013 NCAA Championships. Notre Dame will play host to this year’s Midwest Regionals next Saturday and Sunday with all varsity fencing teams within the Midwest descending upon the Castellan Family Fencing Center.

2013 Midwest Fencing Conference Championships - Final Results:
Men's Standings:1. NOTRE DAME 7952. Ohio State 7803. Wayne State 630
Women's Standings:1. NOTRE DAME 7952. Ohio State 7803. Northwestern 725
Team Standings:1. NOTRE DAME 1,5902. Ohio State 1,5603. Northwestern 1,350