The varsity soccer team will rate as a slight favorite today when it meets an improving Eli eleven here at 1:30 p.m. A victory for the Crimson would climax its most successful season since 1955, and assure it of at least a second place finish in the Ivy League.
Three weeks ago, no one figured today's game to be any kind of a contest. Yale had lost its first two Ivy starts to teams the varsity had beaten, its forward line was not scoring, and its defense was porous. Since then, the Elis have made a remarkable improvement. They beat Penn, 1 to 0, and lost to Princeton, 3 to 2, in overtime. (The varsity tied Penn and lost to the Tigers.)
A win for the varsity could mean the Ivy title, if Penn obliges by beating first-place Cornell. The Crimson would then end the season with a 4-1-1 record, a notch higher than the Big Red's 4-2. The best Yale can do is a tie for third place.
Yale's backfield defense is purported to be its weak point, and Eli coach Jack Marshall has been making all sorts of switches to ease the burden on his goalie, Bill Parkhurst. Marshall has moved the Eli's captain, Neil Van Horn, from center halfback to fullback for today's game to solve this problem. Van Horn has been Yale's defensive standout all year long, and is a candidate for all-Ivy. Mal Black will be at the other fullback.
Gordie Moran, who has played some fullback this year, will start at right half for Yale today, while Whit Wagner and Phil Meyer make up the rest of the line.
The Elis will have to play today with- out their inside right, Alex Ercklentz, who has a broken bone in his right wrist and will not even dress for the game. Chris Wadley is expected to start in his place. Gene Scott, Yale's high scorer with seven goals, will open at center forward, with John Pearce at the other inside. Jim Sampliner, the Elis' fine outside right, will also start, along with Brian Johnson on the left.
As is so often true, today's game could be decided in the relative play of the halfback lines. Varsity coach Bruce Munro intimated this yesterday when he said, "It could very well be that as Bill Rapp goes, so goes Harvard." Rapp, the Crimson's center half, heads a varsity backfield that has ranged from excellence to mediocrity all season long. Marsh McCall and Charlie Steele will be the wing halves, while Bill Driver has recovered sufficiently from his ankle injury to be used in reserve today.
Crimson captain Floyd Moloy will have to watch another game from the bench today, as his ankle injury has not improved. Tim Morgan will once again take his place, with the remote possibility that Moloy will play some. Lanny Keyes and Tom Bagnoli, both of whom have been mentioned as possible all-Ivy picks, will start at left fullback and goalie respectively.
The varsity forwards have come out of their mid-season slump with 12 goals in the last two games and are intact for today. Roger Tuckerman, leading the Crimson scorers with 12 goals, will start at center forward. John Mudd, who scored four times against B.U. and Brown, and John Hedreen are the insides, while Kay Khan and Larry Ekpebu will open on the wings