Harvard's quixotic fencing team, on the threshhold of clinching sole possession of its first Ivy title, failed to maintain its hold on the Ivy sunspot Saturday, dropping a heartbreaking 14-13 decision to Yale in New Haven.
After last week's convincing 18-9 thumping of defending champion Penn, Harvard was expected to coast past Yale. However, the New Haven jinx, combined with a total collapse in sabre, deprived the Crimson of its chance for undisputed claim to the top spot in the Ivies.
Despite the disappointment of closing out the dual-meet season on a downbeat, the loss to Yale is not the end of the world for Harvard. The Crimson still maintains a share of the Ivy crown. However, instead of sitting alone at the top, Harvard must make room for Columbia and Cornell on the Ivy throne.
Harvard, Columbia, and Cornell all finished with 3-2 records in league competition. Princeton and Yale concluded their schedules tied for last place with 2-3 records, a game off the pace in this tightest-ever league race.
Harvard's performance in sabre--the Waterloo weapon of many a visiting team in New Haven--proved the undoing of the Crimson. Edo Marion's sabre men were able to capture only one win in nine bouts. Steve Hobb's 5-4 win in the first round was the nearest Harvard came to breaking into the win column against Yale in sabre action.
Junior sabre man Gordon Rutledge, Harvard's mainstay in the weapon before dropping three straight Saturday, called Saturday's sabre performance one of the worst of his Harvard career. "Our showing against Yale brings back bad memories of the Columbia match my freshman year," Rutledge said yesterday. "We lost that one, 8-1, too." Columbia at the time was the strongest sabre team in the country with All-American Bruce Soriano leading the troops.
"I was afraid of losing badly in sabre," Marion said after the match. "If we could have won one more we would have had the meet and the Ivy title."
With sole possession of the title on the line, Harvard's strong foil and epee men came within an eyelash of compensating for the debacle in sabre. The foil and epee squads grabbed five out of six wins each in the last two rounds, but it just wasn't enough to push Harvard past the Elis.
The Crimson captain, epee man Eugene White, continued his quest for an All-Ivy commendation by sweeping three straight for Harvard. In foil, All-Ivy contender Phillipe Bennett took two out of three, as did Eric Read (epee), Howie Weiss, and Don Valentine (foil).
Yale grabbed a quick 6-3 lead after the first round and never trailed thereafter. Harvard finishes with a 9-5 overall record.
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