Guess what Harvard winter sports squad is on top of the Ivies, undefeated in league play, and headed for the championship. Hockey? Guess again. Must be squash, then? Wrongo. How about swimming? Nope.
Surprise! With Saturday's 17-10 thrashing of a strong Cornell squad that was previously 4-0 in the Ivies, Coach Ben Zivkovic's fencers took sole possession of the Ivy lead, sending the Big Red home to contemplate Cayuga's waters and second place.
The Ithacans looked like lions going into the match, with three 14-13 victories over Yale, Penn and Princeton under their belts. But as foretold by their 14-13 loss to MIT--a team the Crimson easily handled--they turned out to be only paper tigers.
"We were just a better team," captain Matt Simmons said yesterday. "It was never in doubt," he added with satisfaction.
The first round of swordplay brought the Crimson a 6-3 lead, spearheaded by John Chipman's triumph in the sabre division and a tough comeback victory by Eric Mandelbaum in the foil. From that point there was no looking back.
It was full speed ahead for the epee men in the second round as Simmons, Chris Jennings (both 3-0 for the match) and Eric Read all carved up their Cornell counterparts.
Read's duel was no pushover, hoever. Down 4-1, he fought for four consecutive touches while avoiding the defensive double-touch attempts of his Cornell opponent.
The final round of action found the Crimson leading 11-7, needing only three more wins to bag the match. When Read slashed to the clinching 14th Crimson win, his second of the day, the bench erupted to carry him off the strip in triumph.
But Coach Zivkovic refused to sound complacent over Saturday's win, and looked ahead to more tough Ivy League conpetition.
Regarding the upcoming battles with Penn, Columbia and Yale, Zivkovic said, "We fence everything from beginning to end--each match the same as every other."
Captain Simmons, however, sounded a bit more sure of himself. "We're fencing better every match," he said. "When John Major and Gene Vastola start to produce it will be hard to get even a decent score against us," he added.