Nov. 16, 2003

EVANSTON, Ill. – The Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams opened defense of their NCAA title over the weekend at the Northwestern Duals, with the event held two months earlier than usual for an early start to the season. The Irish men extended the third-longest winning streak in the program’s history to 86 matches, winning 74 of 81 individual bouts for easy victories over Johns Hopkins, Lawrence and Northwestern – while the four wins by the Notre Dame women included a 15-12 decision over Midwest rival Northwestern (plus 18-9 wins over Temple, Fairleigh Dickinson and a 24-3 win over Lawrence).

The tournament provided the first glimpse at several promising newcomers on the Notre Dame squad, with freshman sabres Patrick Ghattas (8-0) and Matthew Stearns (7-0) combining to win all 15 of their bouts while epeeist Aaron Adjemian was 6-0 and foilist Frank Bontempo 8-0. The women’s team received a huge boost from freshmen Valerie Providenza (7-0) and Angela Vincent (8-1), former teammates with the Oregon Fencing Alliance club program.

Providenza joined junior foilist Andrea Ament and senior epeeist Kerry Walton in posting 3-0 records to lead the key win over Northwestern, with Vincent adding a 2-1 record versus the Wildcats. Notre Dame and Northwestern fenced to a draw in the combined epee (5-4 edge for ND) and foil bouts (5-4 edge for NU) – but the Irish won six of the nine sabre bouts to claim the win.

Walton’s lone loss in an 8-1 day was a controversial one (Temple’s Sara Forsythe mistakenly was awarded the winning touch after hitting the table) while Ament (8-1) and her classmate Alicja Kryczalo (8-2) combined to win 16 of 19 bouts.

The Irish sabre squad dominated all day to the tune of a 32-4 combined record (compared to 22 wins in foil and 21 in epee) – with the freshman sabers joined by strong efforts from the senior quartet of Destanie Milo (6-2), Maggie Jordan (4-0), Natalie Mazur (3-1) and Danielle Davis (4-0).

Northwestern’s contingent included four of the six Wildcat fencers who competed at the 2003 NCAAs, with the Irish splitting 12 bouts vs. the NCAA veterans. Ament registered a 5-2 win over All-American Julia Foldi while Kryczalo (5-1) joined Ament (5-0) in posting wins over ’03 NCAA competitor Christina Wang. Walton added a 5-2 win over Sharon Sullivan, with Providenza (5-1) and Vincent (5-3) registering wins over another ’03 NCAA participant, Emily Pasternak.

Junior Rebecca Chimahusky also picked up a key 5-3 win over her counterpart, Northwestern No. 3 epeeist Sara Pecherek (the other Irish wins vs. the Wildcats came from Milo and freshman epeeist Amy Orlando).

Temple also featured four NCAA veterans, with the Irish posting five wins versus those fencers. Most notably, Providenza (5-1) and Milo (5-4) turned in wins over All-American Aziza Hasson. The Irish foilists added three wins over NCAA veterans: Ament vs. Jenna Browne (5-1), and Kryczalo vs. Browne and Jenna Remmert (both 5-2).

Chimahusky (5-7) had a solid day in her debut as a member of the top three starters while Orlando (4-6) had an up-and-down start to her promising Irish career.

Check back to later in the week for a full statistical recap, including a bout-by-bout rundown of the ND women’s bouts vs. Northwestern.