Led by lightning-quick Crimson captain Gordon Rutledge,the Harvard fencing team notched its first triumph of the year yesterday with an easy 18-9 victory over MIT.
Rutledge won all three of his matches against Engineer swordsmen. While the outcome was still in doubt in the early going, he trounced MIT sabre star Robert Shin, 5-1, to end an MIT rally.
In his next match, Rutledge blanked opposing captain Kong Park, 5-0, to wrap up the Crimson victory. Engineer coach Eric Solee said, "Kong must have been off today, because he beat Rutledge in a match last week."
The only event in which the Engineers seriously challenged Harvard was the epee. With MIT holding a 4-2 edge, Crimson strongman John Hirschfeld squared off against MIT's Chip Farley.
Farley had had little trouble against his first two Harvard foes; he beat Sam Anderson, 5-3, and John Hawkins, 5-2. But before the final bout, he said, "I think Hirschfeld is the toughest of the three."
Farley was right, as Hirschfeld tallied three quick touches. But then Farley caught Hirschfeld's left side for a point, and Hirschfeld lost a point for being "unnecessarily rough" in scoring his next touch.
With the ledger reading 4-2 for Hirschfeld, Farley faltered on a lunge. Hirschfeld struck quickly, ending the bout and giving the Crimson another match point.
Harvard coach Edo Marion said, "Hirschfeld is an aggressive fencer. That's his game. He looked very good today. He didn't freeze up at all."
"Sometimes my aggressiveness gets the best of me," Hirschfeld said after the match. "Today it was controlled, and it paid off. Farley was stupid to attack on that last point."
A strong sabre performance by Steve Hobbs also padded the Crimson's victory margin. "Hirschfeld was good, but the best news for us today was Hobbs," Marion said. "He won all three of his matches, and wasn't sloppy at all. He's really improved lately."
In the foil competition, Harvard's Phillippe Bennett won all three of his matches to lead the Crimson to a lopsided 6-3 win in the event.
Solee said that the loss of Johan Akerman, last year's top Engineer foil man, hurt his team badly. Akerman, the 1974 Intercollegiate Fencing Association foil champ, was drafted into the Swedish army last summer.
"Now we have three freshmen on the foil team. They've only been fencing for two months, so they'll improve a lot," Solee added.