A lot of reputation will hang in the balance when the Varsity soccer team prances out onto the field tomorrow afternoon to take on a powerful, aggressive Springfield College aggregation. Not only will this be the first real intercollegiate competition for the 1941 Crimson booters but the first sizeable threat to the unsullied names of five of the starting players and their coach.
Springfield presents the initial test to Harvard's Soccer Coach MacDonald's intercollegiate theories. "Mao", who has coached freshman teams at Harvard since 1934, has made soccer his life's career. He played professional soccer in his home town of Glascow, Scotland for 12 years and ever since those days he has taught the sport first to professionals playing in Boston, then to Northeastern's varsity, and finally to eight classes of Harvard men.
Soccer a Science
"Mac" regards soccer as a science and treats it as a scientist would his speciality. He is a coach who has played his sport and who knows it from every angle. The first thing that "Mac" demands from his students is a comprehensive knowledge of the game's fundamentals. This year he has inaugurated a system of recording the detailed play of each man. By keeping charts of every mistake and every good move of each player he is not only able to select the best men for each position with perfect confidence in his choice, but he can show the individual boy his record and demand improvement in the weak points of his game.
But "Mao" is not the only one who will receive his baptism tomorrow. The Tufts game last Saturday was little test of the true abilities of the players, and the 6-0 victory was easily won. Tomorrow, however Springfield is expected to paint quite another picture. The physical education college always puts a clever, hard-hitting squad on the field and for the past two years has succeeded in walking off with top honors. Last year the Crimson lost 2-1.
With this uncertain future confronting them, the Varsity will be playing under a strain not yet encountered this season. For five of the starting eleven it will be an entirely new experience. Thayer Drake at right inside, "Sling" Slingerland at center half, and Bob Harbison and Olie Taylor at fullback are all Sophomores who have yet to prove their mettle. Wes Truscott at right half played in England but never before this year for Harvard.
Many New Men
In good part the outcome depends on these new players. But Drake, captain of last year's Yardlings, will be co-operating with an experienced forward wall. "Herky" Herskovitz, the right outside, is perhaps the most skillful offensive player on the squad. His powerful goal-shots and his accurate centering to the inside of the line won him a place on the Varsity as a Sophomore last year. Danny Poor at the other wing, the fastest man on the team, has already seen two years of Varsity competition. If his ball control lives up to his speed, his performance should equal that of Herky.
The core of the offensive has Buz Saw-hill at center-forward, a clever, capable Junior. In view of his Infirmary siege this week, Jack Calhoun, a faster if less agile forward, may start. Pairing with Drake on the other inside will be Dick Gifford, an experienced, hard-booting play maker.
As the first-string attack lines up at present it forms a strong, well-knit offensive with sufficient individual talent and a good deal of co-operative team-work. Backed by such reserves as Art Neff, Ernie Staber, Fritz Kempner, and Howie Malloy it presents a formidable line.
The team's chief weak point is defense and even more specifically, the co-ordination between the line and backs. Captain Jack Penson, who has guarded Varsity nets for the two full seasons, stands out in the home territory. Tall, powerful, fast, he is the pivot for the Crimson defense. He is one of the few goalies who does not look lost between the uprights.
Both fullbacks are Sophomores, but their lack of experience is their only handicap. Bob Harbison and Oils Taylor are both hard-playing, long-kicking backs and are expected to fill ably the shoes of last year's regulars, Roger Oresman and Captain Dave Ives. Their chief support will be Bud Killam.
The halfback line constitutes the weakest portion of the eleven. Slingerland at center-half is big and powerful, but lacks sufficient control and experience. Mort Myerson, left halfback, although not excessively fast has plenty of punch and fighting ability. Left halfback Wes Truscott, at the moment hampered by a pulled thigh, is an individual specialist but has yet much to acquire in team play. Chief half back substitutes include George Mallory and Bill Butcher.
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