Like a bad movie, last night's fencing match with MIT just went on and on and on. And while the Crimson finally pulled it out, taking an 18-9 decision from the Engineers, the match was a pathetic display for the Harvard squad.
For starters, as late as the middle of the second round, when Phillipe Bennett's second loss allowed MIT to tie the score at 7-7, MIT was in a position to win. The absurdity of the situation became particularly apparent when one considers the 22-5 shellacking that Harvard imposed on the Engineers earlier this year and when one looks at the over-the-years domination by the Crimson in this cross-town rivalry.
Add to this the mediocre 5-4 advantage that Harvard held after the first round, and the Crimson's final point spread loses a lot of its luster. Crimson fans were still uneasy going into Round Three, as MIT, a vastly improved team according to Crimson coach Edo Marion, remained in striking distance. Harvard held a shaky 11-7 advantage after two periods. But Marion's squad finally got it together in the last stanza taking seven out of nine bouts to ice the triumph.
Marion was unhappy after the match, despite the win, and his displeasure was well founded. "If we fence like this next Saturday against Cornell, there is no way we can win," he said.
Crimson captain Terry Valenzuela and foil man Dave Fichter led the Crimson attack, sweeping three bouts apiece. Valenzuela was particularly impressive, scoring a third round shutout and coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the second stanza to score five straight touches for a 5-3 triumph.
Fichter continued his career mastery over MIT with his performance and gave the sagging foil team a much needed boost in the arm. While Howie Weiss did take two out of three, Bennett just couldn't get straightened out, dropping his first two bouts in inglorious fashion. The foil squad, which Marion had hoped would be the major strength of his squad, continued to look unimpressive, adding another lax performance to its collection.
Undoubtedly the high point of excitement of a dull match came in first-round epee action. Chris Jennings, Marion's premier epee fencer, got caught up in an act worthy of an Academy Award nomination as he feigned injury after two collisions with MIT's Bill Eckal, who displayed as much agility as Bubba Smith on roller skates. But in dramatic activity that Jennings manufactured he left out the winning climax, falling behind 3-2, 4-3 before bowing 5-3.