A crack troupe of Army's best men stalled a late, Harvard comeback at West Point Saturday, taking the final two bouts to clinch a 15-12 victory and hand the Crimson fencing team its first loss of the season.
The heroic efforts of Crimson skipper Gene Vastola could not make up for the lapses of some of his more experienced teammates. Vastola captured all three of his bouts, giving up just three touches, all in the first bout, in the process.
Vastola mercilessly impaled his Army opponents with superb point control, smooth rhythm and fine footwork. Fencing as well as he has in over a year, Vastola repeatedly turned long, clean lunges into easy touches.
Unfortunately, Vastola's colleagues could not follow his lead. The sabre team, in particular, had trouble, taking but three of its nine fights. Mike Bierer and Rob Homer, usually two of the Crimson's most dependable fencers, each triumphed in but one of their three bouts. Their successive third-round defeats, after which Harvard trailed 8-12, left the Crimson with what turned out to be an impossible comeback fight.
Except for Russ Kaphan, the epee team also had its difficulties. Kaphan matched Vastola's 3-0 spotless record, using his strength to control his opponent's blades, and score repeated body touches. Rob Kaplan, on the other hand, took but one of three bouts, lacking both his usual concentration and confidence. Steve Biddle, showing his inexperience, also fell twice.
Foil fencer Mike Gilson almost matched his captain's performance, edging his first two opponents, 5-4, before falling, 5-2, in a clash which gave Army its match-clinching 14th bout. Gilson had switched grips earlier in the week; the change appeared to give him better overall blade control.
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