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The battle for the Ivy League crown has yielded but one winner in the last four years, with the vaunted booters from Brown University perched royally above the other Ivy teams. This year, the Bruins' reign may end abruptly, as any one of the seven pretenders to the throne could emerge as the class of the league.
And the battle for succession begins today. Although a slate of league games was played September 17, and a half-slate last Saturday, those were relatively insignificant early-season skirmishes. The real scraps begin this weekend, with a full schedule of Ivy matches--Harvard's game at Cornell this morning, Brown at Penn last night, Yale at Dartmouth and Columbia at Princeton, both today.
The Crimson (O-1 Ivy, 2-1 overall) may prove to be the biggest surprise in the league, even if they end up near the cellar. Written off as a 1977 loser based on last year's 2-10-1 schedule and an opening loss at Columbia, Coach George Ford's squad has jelled in its last two games, both non-league affairs.
The Big Red (0-1 Ivy, 6-1 overall) will be a far from easy victim for the surging Crimson, though, Cornell has fielded exceptionally strong teams the last two years, only to have Brown edge the squad out each time--the 1975 team lost its only game against Brown on Bruin goals in the closing seconds of both halves.
This year's version of Cornell soccer should prove to be of similar caliber. Following an opening 3-1 loss at Penn (the Quakers tied it up with 39 seconds left and went on to win in overtime), the Big Red has churned through its opponents like the Harvard heavyweight crew tears up the Charles.
Cornell coach Jack Writer has 21 lettermen back from last year's 9-4-2 team, including two-time All-Ivy fullback Paul Beutenmuller and All-Ivy halfback Sid Nolan. Above all, they are deep and strong at all positions.
Unfortunately for Cornell (and for Harvard), so is everyone else in the league. If there is a favorite, it has to be the current king of the hill, Brown. The Bruines (1-1 Ivy, 4-2 overall) took on Penn (1-1, 4-1-1) at Franklin Field last night, and while the score was unavailable at press time, there can be little doubt that the game was a barnburner.
The reigning Bruins, for their part, return a solid group from last season's 7-C Ivy squad. Coach Cliff Stevenson lost top pro draft choices forward Fred Per eira and Mark Griffith, and goalie Dave Flaschen, but when you have one of the top teams in the country in '76, '77 can't be too bad.
All-Ivy first team player Ray Schnettgoecke and All-Ivy second team Pat Weir return at midfield, and Tom Turnbull anchors the defense in front of stellar goalies Paul Obermeyer and Ted Von Gerichten. On offense, proven players Peter Van Beek, Tom Pelletier and Tom O'Brien return.
Any dethronement of that group will be tough, especially in view of its recent 3-2 handling of 1976 national champs San Francisco.
But Penn has the capability of knocking Brown off its pedestal. The Quakers play especially good ball on their home astroturf, and so far this year they have been virtually living in their opponents' nets.
Penn has tallied six goals in three games, and in the overtime win over Cornell, the Philadelphians banged home three quick goals in the space of a few minutes.
The biggest game today, though, will take place on Princeton's Poe Field, where the Tigers (1-1 Ivy, 4-2 overall) take on surprise league leader Columbia (2-0, 4-0-1).
Princeton returns everyone (yes, everyone) from last year's 10-4 squad, which swept its last eight games but could catch Brown in the Ivy race. Coach Bill Muse is in his fifth year as coach, and his aggressive recruiting efforts have finally borne fruit.
The Tigers look strong in all positions, returning All-Ivy first team selections in seniors Paul Milone (forward), Allan Marshall (halfback), and Frank Sharry (defense), along with honorable mention goalie Guy Cipriano.
Princeton also fell victim to the overtime bite, losing its opener to Dartmouth, 3-2, in Hanover Spetember 17, then slipping once more in the extra period to Haver-ford, 2-1, September 24.
The Tigers have settled down since then, winning a clutch 1-0 game against Brown last Friday, but they face an equally talented pack of animals in the Columbia Lions. Columbia figured to play its usual patsy role at the beginning of the schedule, but the turn of events since then has changed that.
The Lions are in first place for the first time since 1970, riding high on 3-1 and 4-2 wins over Harvard and Penn, respectively. Quick scoring forward Shahin Shayan and Fred Sock, along with playmaker Ed Triana and Olympic second team goalie John McElaney, lead the rejuvenated Columbia squad.
The final two pretenders to Brown's throne are Dartmouth (1-0, 4-0-1) and Yale (0-1, 4-2), who square off in the shadow of the Yale Bowl. The Big Green knocked off Princeton in their opener and has been cruising ever since, while the Elis have once again earned respectability by virtue of a win in the New Haven City Series tournament and a 1-0 loss to Brown.
Whatever happens, the month of October will be explosive. The fireworks start today
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