Jan. 25, 2003
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The second-ranked Notre Dame fencing teams opened their seasons with strong showings Saturday at the Ohio State Duals, with the Irish men posting a 6-0 record (including a 16-11 battle with the fourth-ranked Buckeyes) while the Notre Dame women went 5-1, losing 15-12 to the fourth-ranked hosts in Saturday-afternoon action at French Fieldhouse.
The Notre Dame men extended the program’s third-longest regular-season winning streak to 65 matches (dating back to 2000) while the Irish women coped with an inexperienced sabre roster, due to the absence of junior captain Destanie Milo (illness) and the graduation of 2002 All-American Carianne McCullough.
Juniors Maggie Jordan (13-2) and Danielle Davis (11-4) did a solid job filling in as the leaders of the young sabre squad but the presence of a healthy Milo likely would have pushed the Irish women ahead of the Buckeyes (who won eight of the nine women’s sabre bouts, with the other ND women’s weapons combining for an 11-7 record vs. OSU).
The day’s feature matchup saw the Notre Dame and Ohio State men tied (11-11) heading into the final five bouts – with all three Irish epeeists (junior North Carey, senior Jan Viviani and sophomore Michael Sobieraj) then closing with victories, as did sophomore Derek Snyder and senior Ozren Debic in the final foil bouts.
The ND men’s foilists (8-1) led the way in the win over OSU, with the Buckeyes owning a similar margin in men’s sabre (7-2) while the Irish won six of nine men’s epee bouts.
Both ND teams posted comfortable wins over Cleveland State, Lawrence, Case Western, Minnesota and Michigan State (the ND men won 122 of 135 bouts vs. those teams, with the Irish women going 125-10 in those bouts).
Notre Dame faces an even stiffer test next weekend at the Joyce Center Fieldhouse in the Notre Dame Duals (Feb. 1-2), as defending NCAA champion Penn State will headline the tournament field (the Nittany Lions were ranked No. 1 in both the men’s and women’s preseason polls; consult und.com later in the week for time and date of the ND-PSU bouts).
INSIDE THE ND-OSU MEN’S SHOWDOWN
Viviani – who extended his career record to 129-15 with a 11-1 day – rallied for the key victory that pushed the Irish to a 13-11 cushion over the Buckeyes. OSU’s Brian Gross (a 2002 NCAA competitor) held a 4-2 lead and appeared to have scored the clinching fifth point, but it was disallowed because Gross had passed Viviani before making the touch. Viviani then tied the score and registered the winning touch in extra time to prevent another tie in the team score (12-12).
The Irish notched the clinching 14th win when Snyder rallied from a 4-3 deficit to beat Nathan Weir (a 2002 NCAA participant), with Sobieraj adding a 5-1 victory over an NCAA-caliber fencer, Spencer Jones, en route to an 11-0 day (he now has won 37 of 38 career bouts with the Irish).
Other noteworthy wins in the ND-OSU men’s matchup included Sobieraj’s shutout of Gross (5-0) and wins by senior Forest Walton (5-2, after trailing 0-2) and Debic (5-3) vs. Weir. Senior men’s sabre Matt Fabricant rallied from a 4-3 deficit to defeat Kitzelin Siebert (5-4) in a key early bout while OSU sophomore sabre Jason Rogers (the third-place finisher at the 2002 NCAAs) swept his three Notre Dame opponents – with the Irish victory ultimately hinging on a 6-3 combined record vs. OSU’s other three returners from the 2002 NCAAs (Gross, Jones and Weir).
ND MEN’S NOTES
Men’s sabre Gabor Szelle (the 2000 NCAA champion and ’99 runner-up) won 11 of 13 bouts in his first action with the Irish since 2001 while Walton went 16-1 in his return (he was studying abroad during the 2002 season). Debic pushed his career record to 127-7 with a 13-0 day while Snyder (13-0) and junior Matt Castellan (8-2) rounded out a dominating 51-2 showing by the Irish men’s foilists.
Carey won eight of 10 bouts in his debut with the Irish while Fabricant went 11-2 and junior Brian Dosal was 9-4 in his first ND bouts.
ND WOMEN’S NOTES
Sophomore women’s foilist Alicja Kryczalo (9-0) continued her domination of collegiate fencing, boosting her career regular-season record to 48-2 (103-3 in overall bouts). Notre Dame’s other defending NCAA champion, junior women’s epee Kerry Walton, won all 14 of her bouts (yielding a 64-5 career record) while senior epee captain Anna Carnick’s 14-1 day extended her career record to 154-37.
Two other seniors – epeeist Meagan Call (11-2) and foilist Liza Boutsikaris (9-2) – posted solid records while sophomore foilist Andrea Ament (9-2) suffered her only losses versus OSU twins Hannah and Metta Thompson.
RECORD BOOK UPDATES: Szelle (145-10) jumped from 23rd to 17th on the ND list for men’s fencing victories (all weapons) but slipped back to fifth on the all-time win pct. list (.936) … Viviani (129-15) improved from 32nd to 27th on the list of career wins while cracking the top-10 list for men’s epee wins (9th) and moving into 11th on the winning pct. list for all weapons (.895; he remains 1st for career epee win pct.) … Debic (117-7) moved from 42nd to 39th on the all-weapons wins and climbed from 5th to 3rd in winning pct. (.944) … Fabricant (113-19) made a jump from 52nd to 44th on the wins list … Carnick (154-37) cracked the ND top-20 list for women’s victories (all weapons), moving into 14th, while Call (144-45) now is 19th on that list and Boutsikaris (140-30) is 22nd … Carnick also passed Claudette de Bruin (’95-’96) into 6th on the women’s epee wins list.