"Well, we're ranked number three in the country, we're number one in the NCAA region, we're 9-0 for the season, and we don't have any problems."
"Gee. I wish I could say that someday," Princeton soccer coach Jack Volz said.
Volz's team this year is built around four returning starters from a squad that failed to win an Ivy League game last season. Only seven members of the team played for the varsity last year.
"We're not Harvard," Volz added.
But Volz is not trying to be Harvard. He is a very pragmatic coach, trying to face up the weaknesses in his Princeton team and compensating for them.
"We're not good enough to have a game plan for every opponent," Volz said. "We'll play it straight against Harvard, no schemes, no gimmicks. We are just not that capable. But we'll just hustle and try to get the ball in the net, 'cause that's the whole idea, isn't it?"
Volz was critical of the attempts by other teams in the Ivy League to develop particular strategies for the game with the Crimson. In particular, Penn shifted from their normal 3-3-4 to a 3-4-3 that was supposed to control the middle of the field. Dartmouth sagged its halfback line into the penalty area in a virtual 9-2 formation.
"That's ridiculous," Volz said. "Not only is the other team better than you but now you've got your own organization all fouled up.
"We played Haverford and they had lost to Penn, 10-0. So they used nine fullbacks and we wound up in a 0-0 tie. What kind of game is that? We had the ball almost all the time; they just made sure we couldn't score."
Volz's basic plan of attack is a short passing game. "We don't have the power to try any of these long passes," he said. "Against Penn we got on that Astroturf and we weren't quick enough to stay in the game. No, we'll just concentrate on moving the ball as far up the field as we can while controlling the passing."
Man for Man
On defense, Volz believes in the basic man-for-man coverage. "We've tried zones during games, but the best method is the simplest man-for-man defense," he said. "We've had very good success with it and we've had good goal tending from Marchant."
Volz knows what his team's problem is: "We're not putting the ball in the hole." Princeton has the fewest shots on goal (47) of any team in the Ivy League.
"We've had good opportunities," Volz said. "We've got plays and patterns that will work, and we've even got the man in the open usually during the game. But we just haven't beat that last man. We seem to have a way of making the other goalie make some fantastic saves."
Volz is neither optimistic nor pessimistic about today's game. "We're a young ball club," he said. "We'll hustle a lot and we'll want to win, but we've gotta put the ball in the net, too."
He summed up his attitude toward the game today by saying, "I sure hope we give you guys a good game today."