Lee Kiefer and Madison Zeiss are well on their way to repeating as NCAA champion and runner-up in 2015.

Notre Dame Advances to Third Place On Day Three of NCAA Championships

March 21, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The University of Notre Dame fencing team can’t be counted out of the NCAA Championship competition yet, as the Irish made up significant ground Saturday at the French Field House. The Irish are currently in third place with 127 points, a mere nine points away from field-leader Columbia’s 136.

“Today we had incredible effort from everyone that participated; we competed and we had a tremendous crowd with lots of energy,” Irish head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said. “All we have to do is finish our work tomorrow. We have twelve matches against the Columbia girls, and we only have a nine point difference with their team right now.”

Foil was the first weapon to start on Saturday, with the 2014 NCAA Champion and runner-up facing each other for the Irish. Lee Kiefer out-touched teammate Madison Zeiss 5-2 and went on to win 5 of the 6 remaining bouts of the round. Zeiss went on a tear after the teammate-versus-teammate loss to also post a 6-1 record after the first round.

In the second and third rounds Kiefer remained undefeated to finish the day 14-1, firmly in first place. Zeiss finished 3-1 after round two and logged a 2-2 mark in round three to finish the day 11-4, good for sixth place.

In epee, 2012 and ’14 entrants Ashley Severson and Nicole Ameli started off strong, as Severson finished the first round 6-1 while Ameli went 4-3. Severson’s sole loss of the round came to St. John’s Isis Washington, 5-3 but she returned the favor against Washington’s teammate Veronika Zuikova, 5-2. She also beat Princeton’s Anna Van Brummen 5-3. Ameli’s notable wins came against Washington (5-3) and Zuikova (5-1).

In round two, Ameli went 3-1 to improve her record to 7-4 before finishing the day 9-6. Severson, for her part logged a 2-2 record in round two and finished with a matching 9-6 mark; she currently stands in fifth place, one spot ahead of Ameli with a +10 indicator (as opposed to Ameli’s +9 marking).

In sabre, freshwomen Claudia Kulmacz and Francesca Russo finished their first round the same way Kiefer and Zeiss did – with matching, 6-1 marks. Russo initially lost to Kulmacz, 5-2, then won six straight to finish the round. Kulmacz earned notable victories against Yale’s Ilana Kamber (5-4) and Duke’s Haley Fisher (5-3) and Jennifer Ling (5-4).

Kulmacz struggled in the second and third rounds, finishing the day in 15th (6-9). Russo went 2-2 in both rounds to finish 10-5, good for seventh place in the weapon standings.

“Tommorow, everyone just has to concentrate; it’s been a long week already and everyone’s tired and excited, and maybe a bit overwhelmed, but we trained for this and our training should come in handy and help us finish the job tomorrow,” Kvaratskhelia said when asked what his girls had to do to win the title.

In speaking of national championships, Kvaratskhelia wouldn’t offer a score on the men’s basketball game against Butler later tonight, saying “NCAA rules do not allow me to wager on our games, but we are still going to root our guys on with all our hearts as they play in Pittsburgh tonight. Go Irish!”

The 2015 fencing NCAA Championships start Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET, with all three weapons starting simultaneously. The top four fencers in each class will advance to the afternoon semifinals, with the team champion decided on individual bout victories.

Team Standings After Day Three

1. Columbia – 136 points

2. Penn State – 128 points

3. Notre Dame – 127 points

4. Princeton – 121 points

5. Ohio State – 120 points

6. St. John’s – 113 points

7. Harvard – 107 points

8. Pennsylvania – 89 points

9. Stanford – 54 points

10. Duke – 54 points

11. Air Force – 43 points

12. Northwestern – 42 points

13. New Jersey Institute of Technology – 37 points

14. Brown – 34 points

15. Wayne State – 29 points

16. Sacred Heart – 26 points

17. Cornell – 17 points

18. Yale – 17 points

19. NYU – 16 points

20. Stevens Tech – 13 points

21. Boston College – 11 points

22. Temple – 11 points

23. UNC – 10 points

24. UC-San Diego – 10 points

25. M.I.T. – 3 points

Lizzie Mikes,

Media Services Coordinator