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Crimson Booters Rank Third in Poll But Rebuilding Job Looms for Munro

By Charles B. Straus iii

If you were the coach of Harvard's 13-2 NCAA semi-finalist soccer team and were faced with the prospect of replacing seven starters, how would you term the approaching season? If you like the obvious answers you might say "rebuilding year" and write off the team.

If you put out the NCAA preseason soccer poll you would rank the Crimson third in the nation. And if you were Bruce Munro you would wonder why such a high ranking, admit that you are indeed rebuilding, and proceed quietly piecing together your talent and chasing Penn for the Ivy crown.

With such fixtures as Thomas, Kydes, Wilmot, Bell, Axton and Messing missing from this year's squad. Munro does indeed have some shuffling to do. In terms of sheer talent he can't hope to equal last year's team. But in terms of "rebuilding" he has enough quality material to construct a fairly comparable unit, which leaves the term "rebuilding" somewhat misleading.

Unlike the past three years, however, Harvard does not have a ready-made team returning, thus making this year's team as unmeasurable quantity. Because of the unproven nature of the team, the biggest question must be whether it can play together and compensate for the loss of individual talent.

"We will have to work more as a unit without our real big strengths of last year," Munro said. "We are apt to drop some early season games, but we are definitely a team that will get better. Our biggest problem will be fitting people in, and then getting time to work them," he added.

Sentimental Ranking

Captain Rick Scott agreed, but he thought that being forced to work as a team may be enough compensation for the losses. "Last year there was more natural talent, but it made it hard to work together. This year we sort of have to work together." Scott said.

Since the team may take some time to gel as an effective unit. Munro feels Harvard's number three ranking is as misleading as the "rebuilding" label "Primarily our ranking was pure sentiment," he said "based on last year's finish in Miami."

The rankings bear this fact out putting defending champion Harvard on top and runner up San Francisco in the second slot A strong St. Louis squad that Munro feels should have been near the top was put at a surprisingly low fifth position.

Despite the loss of Thomas and Kydes the offense has both finesse and speed and could compensate for a somewhat weaker defense. Last year`s top two scorers, Felix Adedeji and Chris Papagants are returning Adedeji set a new Ivy league scoring record with 13 points and Papagants scored consistently from the wing, especially in the crucial games. Norwegian Bent Hinze, an advanced standing sophomore and a Class A player in his home country, should considerably bolster the attack: he complemented Adedeji and Papaganis well in a scrimmage against Amherst Saturday.

Demetrio Mena, a 1970 letterman has returned at left wing. Dragan Vujovic, another winger who led all freshman scorers last year despite being sidelined with mono could take the starting job from Mena, but he has encountered problems getting back to Cambridge from Europe and has missed a week of practice already.

Starter Emmanuel Ekama returns as linkman along with rapidly improving Bahman Mossavar Rahmani, who had an excellent week of practice and looked sharp in the 31 scrimmage win over the Lord Jeffs. Behind these two, however, there is not much midfield depth, and Munro has been working to find some suitable back-up men.

Trademark Suffers

Defense seems to be the squad's major problem, but even here there is no glaring weakness. A Crimson trademark last season, it seems to have suffered the most from graduation and the success of the team may hinge on the development of a cohesive, effective fullback corps.

Taking into account the apparent weakness here. Munro has shuffled some personnel and realigned his defensive formation. Last year Harvard played a "diamond" alignment employing center back and two sweepers behind the wings. This year, however, Munro has opted for a somewhat safer, less aggressive diagonal defense involving less man to man, and more area coverage, somewhat skin to a rotating zone defense in football.

Manning this diagonal will be two returning starters. Captain Rick Scott and Brian Fearnett, veteran Rick LaCivita, and converted halfback Henry Sideropoulos. Sideropoulos' ability to successfully make the switch is also a key.

Goalie is another potential problem spot. The effect of the loss of Shop Messing remains to be seen, but the disaster many envisioned may have been premature. Junior Steve Kidder, Messing's backup last year, has the ability and appears to have the edge over Rick Salvato for the starting berth.

Right now he needs a certain amount of work but he has looked very good and there probably won't be as big a drop off as people think Munro said.

With the stress on teamwork and morale problem areas in some past years the addition of Chris Wilmot to the coaching staff will have a substantial effect on the team. He'll be a big plus and a very good asset for the team." Rick Scott said because he knows most of the players pretty well and will be able to relate to them.

The outlook in the Ivy League is uncertain. Penn and Cornell are rated co-favorites, with Harvard challenging, but the Crimson have a number of advantages. They play both the Quakers and the Big Red at home this year instead of on unfamiliar astro-turf or under the lights. The home advantage also brings with it a friendly crowd, which has an unmeasurable effect.

After only a week of practice and two days of scrimmages, the team scrimmaged Amherst on Saturday. With the regulars playing the first part the play was uneven. The offense overpassed and looked disorganized. Amherst get a goal against the second unit in the second segment, but when the first string came back in the final minutes, the team began to work more effectively.

After missing on his first five shorts, Adedeji finally connected for a goal. Within ten minutes he added two more and showed no signs of the groin injury which happened him last season. It was an encouraging few minutes.

Thus for the team has not sustained any major injuries, but a rash of injuries like the ones last season would cripple the team. Because the squad lacks overall depth. It must remain almost completely healthy to take the Ivy title. The talent is there, but whether it gets is difficult to tell, at least right now.

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