men's foil captain Ariel DeSmet is one of four former NCAA combatants for the Irish men's team competing Saturday.

Notre Dame Prepares for Windy City Matchup at Northwestern

Jan. 29, 2015

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Fresh off two ACC Fencer of the Week awards and a dominating performance in New York City, the University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams again hit the road, this time on a much shorter trip. The Irish will compete all day Saturday at the Northwestern Duals in Evanston, Ill., with competition starting at 9 a.m. E.T.

“This meet is another way for us to adjust and make any necessary lineup changes heading into the ACC Championships and NCAA Qualifiers,” Irish head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia says. “Princeton, Pennsylvania and Stanford’s full teams will be there as well as the Northwestern and Temple women’s teams. So, it’s important for us to go through this stage of the season and test our athletes’ acuity and endurance.”

On the women’s team, returning starters Ashley Severson (epee), Lee Kiefer (foil), Madison Zeiss (foil) and Johanna Thill (sabre) will anchor their respective squads, and are joined by a bevvy of fresh faces in freshmen phenoms Marie-Anne Roche (epee), Zoe Loh (foil), Francesca Russo and Claudia Kulmacz (sabre) – to name just a few. The women are ranked No. 1 in the fencing coaches poll, and are 13-2 on the year; both losses came last weekend against Columbia.

For the men’s team, no longer is there only one strong weapon squad amongst the three weapons classes – rather, epee, foil and sabre all boast fairly even roster size and depth. Jonah Shainberg (sabre) was a star for the Irish last weekend, earning ACC Fencer of the week accolades for his 9-6 two-day record, and looks to join John Hallsten and Jonathan Fitzgerald among others in continuing the men’s sabre squad’s successes.

In foil, Ariel DeSmet and Kristjan Archer – both NCAA qualifiers in seasons past – are joined by Notre Dame’s other ACC Fencer of the week, Hazem Khazbak. Not to be forgotten, Frenchman Virgile Collineau and freshmen Steffen Felt and Spicer Emge bring talent and a high level of competition to the mix, making the men’s foil squad a veritable hotbed of young, fresh talent for the Irish. In epee, senior Dale Purdy is joined by two-time NCAA qualifier Garrett McGrath and a 10 other supporting cast members, making the epee squad the largest on the men’s team. The Irishmen are ranked No. 2 on the fencing coaches poll, and are 8-6 heading in to the weekend.

Stay tuned to the team Twitter account, @NDFencing, for live updates throughout the day Saturday, with full recap to follow on

Lizzie Mikes,

Media Services Coordinator