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After four weeks of kicking up the Briggs Cage dust, Coach Bruce Munro's lacrosse squad finally got a break in the weather and moved outside on Tuesday. Even then the "practice field" was only a gravel pit affair behind the baseball diamond, and the squad is not expected is shift over to their Business School field until this afternoon.
Working out in the Briggs Cage is akin to playing tennis on a ping pong table, so Munro has had to schedule heavy practices this week and a scrimmage with the Boston Lacrosse Club for Saturday.
This intensive last-week training has been necessary in order to get the loss in shape for two of next week's spring trip opponents, Maryland and Navy, who have turned lacrosse into a three season sport and practice ten months a year.
Spring trips seem to be going out of fashion with the debt-ridden HAA, but the lacrosse team's expedition classifies as a sort of private excursion. Maryland, Penn, and Navy have signed guarantees to yap most of the squad's expenses.
On last year's "southern" trip the stickmen were first trounced by Maryland and the Middies, dropped a one-point decision to Penn, then went up to Heboken to beat Stevens Institute. The 1949 squad had the benefit of two weeks of outdoor practice, but this season's team should equal or better this record by having reversed the schedule. This time the team will be tested by Stevens before taking on the Notre Dames of lacrosse, Maryland and Navy.
Munro remarked yesterday that he was "optimistic about the team this year despite the graduation of seven key seniors." He added that it was "still too early to get a real line on the team, but in the Cage, at least, the players showed themselves much further along than last year."
The coach's optimism may also be attributed to a greater familiarity with the players, this being his second year, more experienced midfields, and a collection of promising sophomores.
One sure indication that Munro is serious in his optimism is the fact that the sticks, or crosses, have been lengthened this year. Short sticks, which the coach considers to be a "New England fad," are easier to control, but Munro believes that the team "has shown enough improvement to warrant the longer crosses."
Yost Key Man
Of the '52 players perhaps the key man in Munro's plans is creaseman Ned Yost, who is replacing Dick Bezansan. Though Hans Estin, a feeder, was the high scorer last year, as creaseman, Yost will probably do most of the scoring and will act as screener for the mid-field shots. Yost was high scorer for the Yardlings last year, and showed himself particularly well adapted to the long crosse.
Other sophomores slated for heavy duty on the spring trip are attackman Pete Brook, defenseman Bill Spence and Jay Byrne, Goalie Bob Thomas is still jockeying with veteran Sid Clark for the starting cage slot.
Munro is also depending upon his 12 returning lettermen to fill in the cavities left by graduation. On the attack either Rick Hudner or sophomore Brook will have to replace Estin who besides being the high scorer was considered the best feeder and dodger last season. On the starting defense Munro will be counting upon the varsity experience of Fred Coburn, who will be teamed with two sophomores.
Except for Rip Lynch and George Bender on the tentative third midfield lettermen will do most of the trotting playmaking, and defense work. Captain Paul Davidson, Dick Post, and Paul Birdsall played most of last year on the first or second midfields. Other veteran mainstays at this position are Will Davis, Bill Graham, Dave Waring, and Ed. Thayer. Completing the spring trip roster will be Bill Plissner, Bob Baldwin, and Fred Chamberlin.
Two Hour Practices
The twenty man trip-squad was drawn from the forty odd players who reported to Munro on February 13 and who have been working out two hours a night is the Cage. The reserves who did not make the trip are still likely to see action later in the season.
It is doubtful that the sophomores will mesh with the veterans in time is upset Maryland or Navy, but Munro said yesterday that "the game experience would go a long way in offsetting the effects of a loss."
This probably won't be the Crimson's year for a lacrosse championship, but at least Munro will not have to build all over again next spring. There are only four seniors in his 20-man squad.
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