Jan. 26, 2002

The nation’s No. 1 ranking will be on the line Sunday at the New York University Duals, as the second-ranked Notre Dame fencing teams will face four top opponents, including No. 1-ranked St. John’s. The Irish will fence versus Yale and Columbia-Barnard in the morning (beginning at 8:00 a.m.) before facing NYU and SJU in the afternoon.

The defending NCAA champion Red Storm are top-ranked in both the men’s and women’s polls while the Irish are second in both rankings. Columbia is ranked fifth in the men’s poll and ninth in the women’s while the Yale men are seventh and women eighth.

SJU’s nine NCAA returners include two 2001 NCAA champions-men’s sabre Ivan Lee and women’s epeeist Emese Takacs-plus a pair of 2001 NCAA runner-up performers in women’s sabre Marisa Mustilli and women’s epeeist Arlene Stevens. Notre Dame returns 11 of its 12 fencers who comprised the third-place contingent at the 2001 NCAA Championship, with junior All-America men’s foilist Forest Walton currently studying in Italy as part of his five-year architecture curriculum.

(See matchup notes below for a weapon-by-weapon look t the ND-SJU matchup).

Junior two-time All-American Ozren Debic (Zagreb, Croatia, 84-5 career record) will lead the Irish men’s foil squad, joined by highly-touted freshman Derek Snyder (Chatsworth, Calif.), senior Steve Mautone (Short Hills, N.J., 109-44) and sophomore Matt Castellan (Short Hills, N.J., 16-4). The deep women’s foil unit includes junior and 2000 All-American Liza Boutsikaris (Sparta, N.J.), the potent freshman tandem of Alicja Kryczalo (Gdansk, Poland) and Andrea Ament (Cleveland, Ohio), and junior Katie Schuster (Iowa City, Iowa, 4-4).

Captain Anna Carnick (Mishawaka, Ind., 104-29) and fellow junior two-time All-American Meagan Call (Eugene, Ore., 100-27) will combine with sophomore Kerry Walton (Londonderry, N.H., 11-0 at 2002 Northwestern Invite)-one of the nation’s top-ranked junior-level epeeists-to lead the women’s epee squad, with senior Susan Clark (Cincinnati, Ohio) also making the trip. The men’s epee contingent will be led by junior captain and two-time All-American Jan Viviani (Haworth, N.J., 76-11), promising freshman Michal Sobieraj (Krakow, Poland) and senior two-time All-American Brian Casas (Mishawaka, Ind., 119-45), with sophomore Mike Macaulay (Temple, Texas, 9-5) rounding out the squad.

Notre Dame’s most experience lies in men’s sabre, with senior captain and 2001 All-American Andre Crompton (Irvington, N.J., 108-16) combining with fifth-year senior and three-time All-American Andrzej Bednarski (Granger, Ind., 119-21) and junior Matt Fabricant (Elizabeth, N.J., 63-9) to form a talented threesome (senior Neal Salisian, from Pasadena, Calif., 13-8 record, rounds out the squad). Fifth-year Carianne McCullough (Philadelphia, Pa., 92-21) has returned to captain the women’s sabre squad, which also includes the sophomore trio of Destanie Milo (Know, Ind., 51-11), Maggie Jordan (Maplewood, N.J., 56-17 career foil record) and Jessie Filkins (Wilmette, Ill., 32-16).

Here’s a look at the ND-SJU matchup, by weapon:

Men’s Foil

SJU returns a pair of high finishers from the 2001 NCAAs in Joseph Fisher (4th) and Jonathan Tiomkin (6th) while ND’s Debic was 2nd and 5th in the last two NCAAs … Debic has won his previous four collegiate vs. Fisher (including 5-3 and 5-2) in the NCAAs and posted a 5-1 NCAA win over Tiomkin at NYU in 2001 (Tiomkin then beat him in a key NCAA bout, 5-4) … Mautone has split two previous bouts with Fisher ( 0-5 in ’00, 5-3 in ’01) and dropped a 5-0 bout to Tiomkin at NYU last year.

Women’s Foil

ND’s fantastic freshmen have yet to fence in an NCAA team competition, with Boutsikaris being the only Irish women’s foilist in the NYU meet with previous college bouts versus SJU … SJU’s Elizabeth Thottam placed 10th at the 2001 NCAAs and beat Boutsikaris in three of four college bouts in 2000 (5-4 win regular season, 5-0 loss in NCAAs) and ’01 (5-2 reg. Season, 5-2 NCAAs) … Boutsikaris also lost to SJU’s Irina Khouade at NYU last year (5-2) and lost to Jean Hergenhan at the 2001 NCAAs (5-3).

Men’s Epee

SJU returns All-American Doron Levit (11th at 2001 NCAAs) but must replace star epeeist Alex Roytblat, who won the 2000 NCAA title and placed 4th in 2001 … Viviani has won all five of his college bouts vs. Levitt, including 5-3 in the 2000 regular season and at NYU in 2001, plus 5-2 NCAA round-robin wins in 2000 and ’01 and a 15-12 win in the 2000 NCAA third-place bout … Casas dropped regular-season bouts vs. Levit in 2000 and ’01 (both 5-4), also dropping three 5-2 NCAA bouts to Levit (1999-2001) … Viviani (5-1 loss) and Casas (4-3) loss also fenced vs. SJU’s Anton Guerevich during the 2000 regular season.

Women’s Epee

Both teams will be led by a pair of All-Americans, with SJU’s Emesa Takacs beating teammate Arlene Stevens in the 2001 NCAA title bout … Carnick has lost four previous college bouts vs. Takacs (5-2 in 2000 regular season, 5-3 at NYU in ’01), including 5-4 and 5-2 NCAA bouts … Call stunned Takacs with a 5-4 win at the 2001 NCAAs (en route to a 5th-place finish), after losing to the SJU rival in the 2000 season (5-4), at the 2000 NCAAs (5-4) and at NYU in 2001 (5-0) … Carnick lost to Stevens at the 2000 NCAAs (5-4) and at NYU in ’01 (5-1) before posting a 5-4 win over Stevens in the 2001 NCAAs … Call likewise beat Stevens at the 2001 NCAAs (5-4), after losing at NYU and at the 2000 NCAAs (both 5-1).

Men’s Sabre

ND’s depth could offset the presence of SJU’s defending NCAA champion Ivan Lee, with the Red Storm losing 2001 NCAA runner-up and 1999 NCAA champ Keeth Smart … Bednarski has split four college bouts vs. Lee, with wins at the 2000 NCAAs (5-4) and at NYU in ’01 (5-3), plus a regular-season loss in 2000 (5-3) and a 5-2 loss at the ’01 NCAAs … Crompton has dropped his previous three college bouts vs. Lee: 5-3 in the 2000 regular season, 5-4 at NYU in ’01 and 5-3 at the 2001 NCAAs.

Women’s Sabre

SJU also returns an NCAA champ at this weapon, in Marisa Mustilli (sister of former ND All-America epeeist Nicole Mustilli) but the Red Storm are without 2001 NCAA qualifier Lauren Colett (19th) … McCullough lost four bouts to Mustilli in 2000 (5-1 reg. season, 5-0 NCAAs) and 2001 (5-3 at NYU, 5-1 NCAAs) while Milo lost 5-3 to Mustilli at NYU and 5-3 in the NCAAs … Mustilli also has a solid backup in high-ranked junior Julia Gelman.

Here’s a look at some of the other top matchups for ND at NYU:

* Yale’s Sada Jacobson won the 2001 NCAA title and owns two college wins vs. both McCullough (5-2, 5-1) and Milo (5-0, 5-0) …Debic split two bouts vs. Yale’s Daniel Senft in 2001 (5-3 NCAA win for Senft, who placed 8th) … Boutsikaris has split two college bouts with Yale’s Zane Selkirk (9th at 2001 NCAAs) … Yale’s strength at women’s sabre includes 12th-place NCAA finisher Sophie Jones (2-1 vs. McCullough, 0-2 vs. Milo).

* Columbia returns three All-Americans: 8th-place women’s foilist Katie Cavan (2-0 vs. Boutsikaris), 9th-plae women’s epeeist Monica Conley (3-1 vs. Carnick, 3-1 vs. Call) and 12th-place men’s foilist Kevin Eriksen (1-2 vs. Debic, 2-0 vs. Mautone).

* NYU returns five NCAA competitors, most notably 14th-place men’s epee finisher Gordon Singh (1-2 vs. Viviani, 3-0 vs. Casas) and a pair of 15th-place finishers: men’s epeeist Alex Tsinis (1-2 vs. Viviani, 2-1 vs. Casas) and men’s foilist Alex Nazarov (2-1 vs. Debic, 1-1 vs. Mautone).