A year ago the Harvard fencing team had as much trouble winning against Ivy League competition as Richard Nixon has had convincing the country that his hands are clean of corruption. In Ivy matches last season, the Crimson failed to break into the win column a single time and finished at the bottom of the Ivy barrel with an 0-5 record.
After last year's pathetic performance, it would be hard not to improve. And Saturday, in the Crimson's first League match of the season, Harvard bested last year's winless Ivy record, turning back a pesky Princeton squad, 15-12, at the IAB.
Spotting the Tigers a 5-4 advantage after the first round of competition, Harvard bounced back to take 11 out of 18 bouts in the last two stanzas to send Princeton home to New Jersey emptyhanded.
The Harvard foil and epee teams sparked the Crimson comeback, winning 9 out of 12 bouts in the last two rounds, including five of six in the pivotal second stanza. Overall the foil and epee teams each ran up 6-3 bouting records for the afternoon.
Despite the Crimson's advantage in the last two rounds, the outcome of the contest was still in doubt until the second-to-last bout. But with Harvard leading, 13-12, epee man Sam Anderson grabbed an easy 5-1 decision to clinch the win.
Anderson and Phillipe Bennett in foil swept three bouts apiece to lead the Crimson. Captain Eugene White (epee), Howie Weiss (foil) and Gordon Rutledge (sabre) each won two out of three.
As expected, Harvard had trouble in sabre. While Rutledge took two out of three, Loren Joseph and Steve Hobbs could only manage one win between them.
Crimson coach Edo Marion was not surprised by Harvard's performance against Princeton. "We knew we should be strong in foil, but we are very weak in sabre," Marion said. "The results pretty much bear that out."
Optimism for Future
White was optimistic about what the win will mean over the rest of the season. "There was a lot more confidence and composure today than we have shown before," he said. "People showed a lot of determination."
As if a win in an Ivy match were not excitement enough for Harvard, the contest was spiced with controversy. Midway through the contest Marion and Princeton mentor Stanley Sieja squared off and exchanged verbal jabs over the latter's use of a number of his Tiger fencers in both the varsity and J.V. matches.
Marion and Sieja's heated argument briefly interrupted bouting in the varsity match. Marion claimed that Sieja's use of athletes in varsity and J.V. matches running simultaneously was in violation of NCAA guidelines. Marion said that he would protest the actions of the Tiger coach.
"I cannot contest this now, but I will ask [Robert] Watson [Harvard director of Athletics] to check with the NCAA to see if this is legal," Marion said.