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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer

Irish to wrap up regular season in Durham at Duke Duals

The Notre Dame fencing teams will travel to Durham, North Carolina this weekend to take part in the Duke Duals. The No. 5-ranked Irish men’s team and No. 3-ranked women’s team went undefeated last weekend in the Northwestern Duals in Evanston, Illinois.

The Northwestern Duals saw the Irish post their second-straight undefeated weekend after recording a perfect sweep over two days of competition at the DeCicco Duals. The men’s and women’s teams each went 14-0 over competition from the Midwest.

In Evanston, the Irish continued their hot streak with the women going 8-0 and the men going 6-0 against the competition. The women defeated two top-10 opponents, besting No. 9 Northwestern — who they defeated in the DeCicco Duals, as well — by a score of 18-9 and No. 5 Ohio State by the same score. The men recorded one ranked win with a victory over No. 6 Princeton.

Hannah Huelskamp | The Observer
Irish junior foilist Thomas Murray competes during Notre Dame's annual DeCicco Duals on Jan. 26. The Irish men and women both posted 14-0 sweeps of the competition during the matches.

The Irish fell in the rankings prior to the DeCicco Duals after some relatively difficult showings for a team accustomed to dominance at the St. John’s and Philadelphia Invitational. Over those two meets, the women went 7-3 overall and the men 3-7, including an 0-5 record at St. John’s.

Even so, head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said his team — which has lacked several athletes who are training for the Olympics or were competing at the World Championships in France, of whom the latter group will be returning for the Duke Duals — may have been somewhat overrated due to the recent success of two-straight national championships and a third-place finish nationally in 2019.

In discussing his teams’ success, Kvaratskhelia couldn’t single out any particular player, sharing the credit with multiple athletes who are shouldering the load.

“It’s hard to distinguish any one person or squad. The whole team gave a sustained effort that resulted in that undefeated record,” Kvaratskhelia said. “Across the board. It was a great effort by everyone, from regular starters, to those getting a chance to make an impact.”

With several players returning, Kvaratskhelia said he is eager to see a more complete roster against some of the tough competition in Durham.

“I am very excited to fence great opponents such as Penn State, Temple and Duke with a full-strength lineup,” Kvaratskhelia said. “Obviously, our conference rival Duke, who really give us their best effort. Also, of course, Penn State and Temple, who have beaten us earlier. The other teams will be challenging, and we have nothing but respect for everyone we will face.”

The Irish men now boast a record of 27-8 while the women stand at 32-5, while both are on winning streaks of 20-plus matches. With the Duke Duals representing the last regular season opportunity for the Irish to improve, the team is nearing its home stretch.

“I have great confidence in our team,” Kvaratskhelia said. “We are working to peak at the precise moment. We want to prove that our undefeated streaks since Philadelphia are no fluke.”

Notre Dame will look to do so Feb. 8 and 9 in Durham.