Junior sabre Valerie Providenza (17-1) was one of five Notre Dame fencers to post double-digit wins and 0-1 losses as both Irish teams swept to 6-0 records at the Northwestern Duals.

Top-Ranked Women's Squad Moves Irish Closer To Lead, Setting Up Sunday Showdown For NCAA Title (full recap)

March 19, 2005

HOUSTON, Texas – The top-ranked Notre Dame women’s fencing team turned in a strong effort Saturday in continuing action at the NCAA Combined Men’s and Women’s Fencing Championships, with the six Irish fencers winning 59 of their 84 bouts to set up a three-team race for the title on Sunday’s completion of the four-day event.

(Note that this recap now includes additional notes and photos from Saturday’s bouts.)

Sunday’s action begins at 9:00 a.m. and the Notre Dame sports hotline will continue to provide regular on-site updates (several times during the day. To access the hotline, call (574) 631-3000, then select option “8” (for tennis and fencing) followed by option “3” for fencing updates.


Foilist Alicja Kryczalo (12-2) is in position to make a run at her fourth NCAA title (all photos by Pete LaFleur).



Ohio State – which qualified just five women’s fencers and saw its margin over the Irish shrink from 24 points to 13 – continued to lead with 142 points, followed by St. John’s (134), Notre Dame (129) and Penn State (119). Each fencer has nine bouts remaining in the 23-bout round-robin, meaning that the Irish, Red Storm and Nittany Lions have a maximum of 54 more wins (with six entrants each) on the final day while the Buckeyes can win a maximum of just 45.

Freshman sabre Mariel Zagunis – the 2004 Olympic gold medalist – leads the Notre Dame contingent after going 13-1 in her bouts to sit atop the sabre rankings. Three-time NCAA foil champion Alicja Kryczalo (12-2) and sophomore sabre Valerie Providenza (10-4) both are tied for third in their respective weapons, with Providenza making a gutsy battle through illness as she looks to repeat as the NCAA champion.

Three-time All-America foilist Andrea Ament suffered a mid-bout foot injury but was able to return to action, going 11-3 to earn a share of fifth in the foil standings.

The Notre Dame epeeists will be aiming for better results on the final day after combining for just a 13-15 record in Saturday’s action (the Irish sabre and foil pairs both were 23-5). Sophomore Amy Orlando (8-6) stands 11th in the epee rankings while fifth-year senior Kerry Walton – the ’02 NCAA champion and ’04 runner-up – struggled to a 5-9 record versus some top competition in the day-three rounds.

Both Notre Dame sabre fencers and both foilists are in range of qualifying for the individual semifinals, with those bouts to be held on Sunday after the conclusion of the round-robin (the semifinals, third-place bout and final do not factor into the team scoring).


Olympic gold medalist Mariel Zagunis – who lost just once during the 2005 college regular season – sits atop the sabre standings with a 13-1 record.



The Irish posted a combined record of 13-5 vs. the other top contenders (5-1 vs. SJU and PSU, 3-3 vs. OSU) in Saturday’s bouts, including 6-2 in sabre (3-1 vs. OSU, 2-0 vs. SJU, 1-1 vs. PSU), 3-3 in epee (3-1 vs. SJU, 0-2 vs. OSU) and 4-0 in foil (vs. PSU).

Notre Dame’s 12-5 record in Saturday’s one-touch bouts included close bouts for Kryczalo (3-0), Orlando (5-2), Walton (2-2), Ament (1-1) and Zagunis (1-0).

Plenty of blockbuster matchups are on tap for Sunday, including the second round of the day that will see the Irish foilists and their bouting partner Iris Zimmerman of Stanford (the ’01 NCAA champ and an ’04 Olympic hopeful) take on OSU three-time All-Americans Hanna and Metta Thompson and Princeton’s Jacqueline Leahy (4th-place finisher at the ’04 NCAAs).

Sunday will mark the end of one of the most dominant four-year duos in the history of the NCAA Fencing Championships, as Kryczalo (75-8, plus 3-0 in semifinals and 3-0 in finals) and Ament (71-12, plus 2-1 in semi’s, 0-2 in finals and 1-0 in 3rd-place bout) will close their college fencing careers. The “A Team” (Alicja and Andrea) have combined for a 146-20 record (.879) in NCAA round-robin bouts, with five combined appearances in the title bout (plus a 3rd place). Kryczalo needs six more wins to pass foilist Sara Walsh (80-12, ’96-’99) atop the ND list for career NCAA round-robin wins while Ament already is 3rd on that list (no other previous ND fencer has won more than 64 NCAA bouts).


Senior foilists Alicja Kryczalo and Andrea Ament have combined to win nearly 90% of their career bouts in the NCAAs.



Kryczalo is attempting to join former NYU sabre Michael Lofton (’84-’87) and former PSU foilist Olga Kalinovsjaya (’93-’96) as the only four-time champions in NCAA fencing history. Just 27 other Division I athletes – including such legendary names as distance runners Steve Prefontaine and Suzy Favor, wrestler Pat Smith, shot putter Michael Carter and a parade of swimmers who also starred on the Olympic stage (among them Mark Spitz, John Naber, Jenny Thompson, Mary T. Meagher, Pablo Morales and Ian Crocker, plus diver Troy Dumais) – ever have claimed four NCAA titles in the same event (done a total of 34 times by 29 individuals).

Here’s a closer look at the day-three action:


Andrea Ament showed her trademark mental toughness by overcoming a midbout foot injury to post a 10-4 record in Saturday’s bouts.



WOMEN’S FOIL – Princeton’s Jacqueline Leahy (who lost an overtime bout to Kryczalo in the ’04 NCAA semifinals) and Erzberet Garay of St. John’s sit atop the foil standings after 14 bouts (each 13-1), followed by Kryczalo and Harvard’s Emily Cross at 12-2 (Kryczalo is in 3rd based on a +32 in total-point indicators) … Ament (5th, based on a +19) and OSU’s Metta Thompson are next at 11-3, followed by OSU’s Hanna Thompson and Stanford’s Iris Zimmerman (both at 10-4) … Zimmerman, the ’01 NCAA champion who did not compete in the ’04 college season while attempting to qualify for the Olympics, is paired with the ND foilists in a potent bouting group (the Thompson twins also have a strong bouting group partner in Leahy) … Kryczalo beat Ament in the first bout (5-1) and now owns a 8-2 record vs. her teammate in postseason competition (5-1 in the NCAAs) … Kryczalo’s other noteworthy wins came vs. the three-time All-American Zimmerman (3-1; she was 1st at ’01 NCAAs, 7th in ’02, 2nd in ’03), a sweep of PSU All-Americans Anna Donath (3-2; 6th in ’03, 7th in ’04) and Meredith Chin (5-4; 12th in ’02, 15th in ’03, 9th in ’04), another sweep of the familiar Northwestern duo Julia Foldi (4-3/OT; 8th in ’02, 10th in ’03, 8th in ’04) and Jessica Florendo (13th in ’04), and Harvard two-time All-American Chloe Stinetorf (5-2; 12th in ’03, 11th in ’04) … her other wins came vs. the Columbia pair of Eve Overton (5-0) and Christina Kaneshege (5-1; 16th in ’04), M.I.T.’s Susannah Dorfman (5-1; 21st in ’03, 23rd in ’04), Temple’s Jenna Remmert (5-1; 19th in `04) and James Madison’s Leigh Pendergrass (5-0) … Harvard young sensation Emily Cross and Cal State Fullerton’s Senta Breden (17th in ’03, 20th in ’04) handed Kryczalo her only losses (both 3-5) in the first 14 bouts … Ament also swept the duos from PSU (5-2 vs. Donath, 5-1 vs. Chin) and Northwestern (5-1 vs. Foldi, 5-3 vs. Florendo), adding a sweep of Columbia (5-4 vs. Overton, 5-3 vs. Kaneshege) plus wins over Remmert (5-2), Stinetorf (5-2), Dorfman, Pendergrass and Breden (each 5-3) … Ament suffered her injury with a 3-2 lead vs. Stinetorf and was down for several minutes before returning for that win (followed by the win over Stinetorf and a 5-1 loss to Cross) … her other losses were vs. former NCAA champs Kryczalo (1-5) and Zimmerman (4-5) … Kryczalo now is 5-2 vs. Zimmerman in college bouts (4-0 in the NCAAs), 5-1 vs. Donath (3-0 in NCAAs), 7-0 vs. Chin (4-0 NCAAs), 12-2 vs. Foldi (4-0 NCAAs), 7-2 vs. Florendo (2-0 NCAAs), 5-1 vs. Breden (2-1 NCAAs) … Ament improved to 5-1 vs. Donath (2-1 NCAAs), 5-2 vs. Chin (4-0 NCAAs), 13-1 vs. Foldi (3-1 NCAAs), 8-1 vs. Florendo (2-0 NCAAs) and 6-0 vs. Breden while seeing her record vs. Zimmerman drop to 2-4 (1-3 NCAAs).

Looking Ahead to Sunday’s Foil Bouts
Round 5 – vs. St. John’s foilists Erszebet Garay (current leader) and Katie Larchanka and Sacred Heart’s Leanda Ferland (24th at ’04 NCAAs)
Round 6 – vs. Ohio State three-time All-Americans Hanna Thompson and Metta Thompson and Princeton’s Jacqueline Leahy (those fencers finished 3-5-4 at the ’04 NCAAs)
Round 7 – vs. Yale’s Alisa Mendelsohn (14th in ’04) and Diana Schawlowski and Columbia All-American Cassidy Luitjen (10th in ’04)


Sophomore epeeist Amy Orlando (8-6) beat 2004 NCAA champion of Wayne State for the second straight time in NCAA round-robin action.



WOMEN’S EPEE – Penn’s Holly Buechel (11-3) leads after 14 bouts, followed by Columbia’s Morgan Midgley and Alexie Rubin, and PSU’s Case Szarwark (all 10-4) … Orlando is 11th (8-6) while the three-time All-American Walton is 20th (5-9) … Orlando’s top wins came vs. Walton (5-4), the SJU duo of Joanna Guy (5-2) and Reka Szelle (3-2/OT) and defending champ Anna Garina of Wayne State (4-3/OT) … she also beat UNC’s Courtney Krolikowski (5-2; 23rd in ’04), Northwestern’s Courtney DuBois (5-3; ND’s group partner for the round-robin), and the NYU pair of Jean Goto (5-4) and newcomer Lauren Willock (5-4) … her losses were to Midgley (2-3/OT), Rubin (2-5; 12th in `04), Harvard’s Jasmine McGlade (2-5; 13th in ’04), OSU’s Kaela Brendler (1-5; 7th in ’04), WSU’s Anna Vinnikov (2-5; 13th in ’02, 8th in ’03, 16th in ’04) and Sara Abraham of Wellesley (4-5) … Walton notched wins vs. DuBois (5-3), Rubin (5-4/OT), Guy (5-1), Krolikowski (4-3/OT) and Abraham (5-3) while losing to Orlando (4-5), Midgley (1-5), McGlade (0-5), Szelle (2-5), Brendler (4-5), Vinnikov (2-5), Garina (2-3), Goto (3-5) and Willock (2-4) …Orlando improved to 3-5 in college bouts vs. Garina (2-0 at the NCAAs), plus 2-1 vs. both Goto and Willock, 6-1 vs. DuBois while the losses dropped her to 1-3 vs. Rubin (0-2 NCAAs), 0-2 vs. Midgley, 1-1 vs. McGlade (both at NCAAs), 3-7 vs. Vinnikov (0-2 NCAAs) and 4-5 vs. Brendler (0-2 NCAAs) … Walton improved to 4-1 vs. DuBois and 1-3 vs. Rubin (1-1 NCAAs) while dropping to 0-2 vs. Midgley, 1-1 vs. McGlade, 1-7 vs. Garina, 4-7 vs. Vinnikov (0-4 NCAAs), 2-4 vs. Brendler (1-1 NCAAs), 0-2 vs. Willock and 1-1 vs. Goto.


Three-time All-American Kerry Walton will be looking to close her career strong in her final nine epee bouts on Sunday.



Looking Ahead At Sunday’s Epee Bouts:
Round 5 – vs. Princeton’s Kira Hohensee and Erin McGarry (14th at ’04 NCAAs) and Pennsylvania’s Holly Buechel (current leader, 9th at ’04 NCAAs)
Round 6 – vs. UC San Diego’s Chelsea Ambort, Air Force’s Eliza Enyart, and Cal Tech’s Katherine Harvard (24th at ’04 NCAAs)
Round 7 – vs. Penn State’s Case Szarwark (current 4th place, 18th in ’04) and Andrea Wine and Duke’s Anne Kercsmar (3rd in ’04)


Valerie Providenza combines with fellow Oregon Fencing Alliance product Mariel Zagunis to give Notre Dame one of the nation’s top sabre duos.



WOMEN’S SABRE – There are eight groups of three competing in each weapon but nine teams qualified pairs in women’s sabre, meaning one team (ND) was split up for the round-robin … Zagunis is paired with Northwestern’s Lauren Dunn and Mai Vu while Providenza is with OSU’s Siobhan Byrne and Amelia Gaillard … Zagunis ripped off a +44 (69-25) to take the lead after 14 bouts (13-1) while Providenza is tied for 4th at 10-4 (+22) … Zagunis posted three 5-0 wins, three 5-1 and three 5-2 … her top wins came vs. Providenza (5-2), Byrne (5-0), Gaillard (5-2), PSU’s Laura Hillstrom (5-1) and Duke’s Ibtihaj Muhammad (5-0; 9th at ’04 NCAAs), adding wins vs. NCAA veterans Vu (5-3) and Dunn (5-1), plus Cornell’s Ivana Zgaljic (5-1), Harvard’s Carolyn Wright (5-4) and Alexa Weingarden (5-2), Haverford’s Halli Melnitsky (5-2), Duke’s Alison Shafer (5-0), Drew’s Emma Nostrand (5-2) … she dropped her final bout of the day vs. PSU’s Sophie Hiss (3-5), the runner-up to Providenza in the ’04 NCAA final … Providenza battled through her illness to post key wins over Gaillard (5-3), the SJU pair of three-time All-American Christina Crane (5-3; 5th in ’02, 8th in ’03, 6th in `04), Vu (5-1), and newcomer Kasia Wieronski (5-2), Muhammad (5-2) and Penn All-American Katelyn Sherry (5-3; 7th in ’04), also adding wins vs. NCAA veterans Vu (5-1) and Marisa Romero of Air Force (5-1), plus Melnitsky (5-1), Shafer (5-2) and Penn’s Cassie Frey (5-0) … Providenza’s losses came vs. Zagunis, Dunn (3-5), Byrne (2-5) and Yale’s Carly Guss (0-5) … Zagunis improved to 4-0 vs. Bryne and Gaillard in college bouts this season, also 2-0 vs. both Dunn, Vu and Hillstrom (now 1-1 vs. Hiss, earlier beating her 5-2 at the ND Duals) … Providenza improved to 2-3 in college bouts vs. Gaillard, 6-1 vs. Vu (2-0 in the NCAAs), 1-2 vs. Muhammad (1-1 NCAAs), 2-0 vs. Shafer, 2-1 vs. Crane (1-1 NCAAs), 2-0 vs. Sherry (both at NCAAs) and 3-0 vs. Romero (2-0 NCAAs) while falling to 4-3 vs. Dunn, 2-3 vs. Byrne and 1-1 vs. Guss.


Mariel Zagunis and her Olympic teammate Emily Jacobson (Columbia) – who handed Zagunis her only loss of the ’05 college season (pre-NCAAs) – are slated to do battle during Sunday’s bouts.



Looking Ahead to Sunday’s Sabre Bouts
Round 5 – Providenza vs. Columbia All-American Emma Barratta (4th at ’04 NCAAs) and Emily Jacobson (’04 Olympian) and Cal State Fullerton’s Rachel Liebing (12th at ’04 NCAAs) … Zagunis vs. St. John’s duo of Crane and Wieronski and Yale’s Guss
Round 6 – Providenza vs. Harvard’s Wright and Weingarden and Cornell’s Zgaljic … Zagunis vs. Penn’s Frey and Sherry and Air Force’s Romero
Round 7 – Providenza vs. PSU’s Hiss and Hillstrom and Drew’s Nostrand … Zagunis vs. Columbia’s Barratta and Jacobson and Fullerton’s Liebing