When Penn State was ranked fourth in the national football polls two years ago, the Nittany Lions were far better than any of their Eastern competition. And when Penn was rated fourth in the national basketball polls, the Quakers could count on rolling to an undefeated regional record.
National athletic superiority by an Eastern college is unusual, and therefore Harvard fans might expect that its fourth-ranked soccer team will roll into the NCAA regional playoffs with an unblemished record. However, the Crimson faces a challenging Ivy League schedule that could promise upsets of national interest on almost any given weekend.
Last fall four Ivy League teams (Harvard, Penn, Brown and Columbia) were ranked in the top 15 of the nation at one time. A similar situation should occur this season, for almost every Ivy squad is improved, some markedly.
Here's the low down:
HARVARD--The Crimson must be cast as the preseason favorite. Harvard easily led the league in scoring and defense last fall and both aspects of the Crimson game are equally strong this season.
On offense, Harvard lost Sol Gomez, who monopolized two full-backs in almost every game, and Peter Bogovich, who had the hardest shot on the squad. But Coach Bruce Munro can now call on freshman record-setter Felix Adedeji to draw out the opposition defense, and Phil Kydes has an incredibly powerful shot. Add to that that two trickiest and talented forwards in the league, Charlie Thomas and Chris Papagianis, and you have a forward line that can outrun, out-manuever and overpower any defense in the League.
On defense, the Crimson presents probably the best fullback in the country in Chris Wilmot and the 1972 Olympic goalie, Shep Messing. With this strength up the middle. Harvard can afford to make an error or two at midfield and not suffer on the scoreboard.
If Harvard has a weakness it will be on the wing defense where it lost two fullbacks and one halfback. The Crimson may be susceptible to a sudden opposition breakaway on a clearing pass to the wing, but the strength of Wilmot and Messing in the penalty area and the scoring potential of the offense will offset any one goal mistake.
Overconfidence is the only hurdle in the Crimson's path. Several Ivy squads have the potential to stay with Harvard for two or three periods. None, on paper, should beat it. First.
PENN--For two years the Quakers have attracted national rankings in Philadelphia, and each time the Crimson has shattered Penn's hopes. Two years ago 5000 Penn fans turned out at Franklin Field to watch the fifth-ranked Quakers lose badly to the third-ranked Crimson.
Penn will be out for revenge this fall, and the Quakers have the material to pull off the upset. On offense, Penn has perhaps the most dangerous twosome in the Ivy League in All-Ivy forwards Tom Liebermann and Stan Startzell.
Liebermann is without a doubt the finest all-around player in the Ivy League. In his first two Harvard-Penn games Liebermann personally dominated midfield play and triggered his team's scoring threats. Just having the senior forward on the field promises the Quakers can exploit three or four dangerous situations per game. Unfortunately, Penn's weakness in the halfback line causes Liebermann to concentrate a great deal on defense and the Quakers will suffer from that loss.
Penn's weakness this fall will be at defense. Gone are All-Ivy fullbacks John Vroman and Art Swanson and consistent All--Ivy goalie Alex Spector. Penn will need to score to win.
One big advantage for the Quakers is that they will play all three of their toughest games (Harvard, Brown and Cornell) on the Franklin Field Astroturf. With the home field advantage and the large desire for revenge. Penn ranks as the top threat to the Crimson. Second.
BROWN--Three yards and a cloud of dust was once the winning theory for football, and it still is for the Brown soccer team. Loaded with size, strength and a desire for rough-housing, the Bruins can out-hit any Ivy squad except the large Crimson fullback line.
Brown, Columbia: Doormats No MoreThe last two Ivy League seasons can be summed up in one word: Penn. The Quakers have mowed down everyone
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