According to people in Washington, it is supposed to be a good year for Fords.
Harvard's soccer team can only hope that that holds true, as brand new coach George Ford's Crimson booters take to the field today to face the Engineers of MIT at MIT.
As the other Ford does, Harvard's Ford faces massive problems of rebuilding. With only four seniors who now play regularly, the new mentor can only look to the future and hope that numerous juniors and sophomores develop rapidly.
One similarity this year's squad will have with last year's is defensive-minded style of play. The Crimson will most likely open today in a 4-3-3 alignment, sending only three forwards in for attack against an expectedly weak Engineer squad.
Leading the front line will be seniors Leroy Thompson and Artie Faden, representing the biggest offensive guns the Crimson has this year. On the backline, senior captain Steve Mead and junior Ralph Booth are both returning from last year's 3-7-2 squad.
Booth is still a question mark, as an injury sidelined him during last Saturday's scrimmage against UMass. Another headache for Ford has been the condition of junior back Steve Hines, who has been kept out of action with torn ligaments in his knee. Hines was told on Friday he should not see action for another two weeks.
At halfback, Harvard has no returning starters, having lost the likes of Ric LaCivita to graduation. Other losses from last year include goalkeeper Steve Kidder (honorable mention for All-Ivy as a junior) and fullback Brian Fearnett (all-Ivy).
Taking over at goal for the Crimson will be senior letterman Ben Bryan, who saw a good deal of action last season due to Kidder's injuries. Also destined to see time in the Harvard goal is Peter Durgerian, a 6 ft. 2 in., 190 lb. sophomore up from last season's freshman squad.
Lyman Bullard, another sophomore, will most likely take over a fullback spot in today's lineup. Bullard will be used as a "sweeper," in an effort to give more punch to a lackluster offensive corps. The sweeper will be used to drop back on defense as a safety, loosening one of the other forwards to head up the field on the attack.
Junior fullback Geoff Hargadon will probably be converted to the front line this year, in an attempt by Ford to take advantage of his size.
The Crimson squad will play a longball type of game against its opponents to take advantage of its main asset--team speed. Ford's rigorous training schedule (five workouts every two days) has produced what he hopes is a conditioned team. With no superior dribblers on the squad, Ford must rely on the long pass.
The Engineers are a traditional loser in their games against Harvard, and the fundamentals and organization Ford has brought with him to the Crimson booters should insure a typical outcome for today's contest.
The problem will come later in the campaign, when the Cornells and Princetons come to town. The Crimson roster will be tightened in the next few weeks, the net result being a team that could conceivably be bery tough to beat.
As for now, the problems are inexperience and a corresponding lack of offense. But things will get better.