Booters Leave Sunday for Orange Bowl

Author: 
M. Deacondake
Date Published: 
1971-12-17
Source: 
Harvard Crimson

Howard, St. Louis, San Francisco Join in Quest for National Title

"All I know is that when this thing is over we're either gonna be real happy or real sad. If we draw between 15,000 and 20,000 for both days together I think we'll break even and Lord willin' and the creak don't rise we'll have the tournament here next year,"--Dan McNamera, Executive Vice-President of the Orange Bowl Committee.

And so, like a greedy monopoly player who already owns Boardwalk and Park St., and is now erecting a chain of hotels, the Orange Bowl Committee launches into a three-year lease for the NCAA Soccer Championships to compliment its awesome King Orange Jamboree festivities and the increasingly peopular Orange Bowl football classic.

Taking part in college soccer's first real attempt to break into the national spotlight, Harvard, which sprinted through the season with a 13-1 mark, will face Howard (13-0) in the first game of the semi-finals on December 28.

In the second game later that night, undefeated, reigning national champion, and number one rated St. Louis faces the number two ranked west coast titlist San Francisco (13-2). There will be no consolation match before the finals, which will be played at 8 p.m. on the 30th.

History

In 1969, Harvard and San Francisco were among the final four teams at the championships in San Jose, but both lost to perennially strong St. Louis. The Crimson dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker to the Billikens in the semis and San Francisco, after beating Maryland in the semis, 1-0, fell to the same fate in the finals, 4-0.

The Crimson, after strong playoff shutouts of Southern Connecticut (5-0) and Brown (3-0) and a very impressive 4-1 win over the nation's fourth ranked team, Hartwick, in the Dec. 4 Eastern Championships, appeared on its way to reaching a peak in team performance for the Miami finals.

However, there is no way to judge what effect a long lack of competition since Hartwick may have on the team. Coach Bruce Munro gave the squad a week layoff after clinching a berth at Miami, but had the team out practicing Monday, The squad will leave Cambridge for New York this Sunday at noon.

At 2 p.m. Sunday on the Adelphi College field, Munro will attempt to reaclimate the squad to hard competition by sending his charges against a combination team consisting of members from the Cosmos and Hots, two of New York's best pro teams. After the game, the team will fly to Florida, spending a week practicing at St. Andrews, a prep school in Boca Raton, before checking in at the championship's headquarters in Miami's McAllister Hotel.

Harvard is heading south a full week ahead of any of the other schools, which all will arrive when the headquarters open on the 26th. "It's obvious why we're going down early," Munro said yesterday. "We need to get accustomed to the climate, heat, humidity, and hopefully to get a lot of work down on artificial turf."

Many experts are leary about playing the championships on the artificial "Poly-Turf" surface in the orange Bowl, which is presently under careful scrutiny as the possible cause for numerous slips and losses of footing experienced by football players there. Also, the limitations that the Orange Bowl forces on the more expansive dimensions of soccer fields has been a cause for debate.

"We staged a semi-pro game last Friday afternoon in the bowl and kept track of the number of slips," McNamera said. "Only four players fell on their bucket all day. You'll find that many slips on the best natural turf."

Hash-Out

In a hash-out between players and officials after the game, it was found that the slips incurred by both the Eracondos-Lan Chile combination team and the North Miami squad were limited to players whose shoes had high hard cleats which kept the sole line of their shoes above the grass.

Players with short, but not worn, rubber cleats had no problems and in general, raved about their ability to weave circles around their fallen defenders.

Suggestions were also made on the physical layout of the field, which is 68 yds. wide (15 1/2 yds. wider than a football field and 3 yds. above the minimum requirements for soccer) and 116 yds, long (only 4 yds. below the maximum soccer standard). It seems that an artificial playing field has roughly the topography of a turtle back to promote drainage. With the practice game layout, goalies found themselves running uphill at a steep angle.

With this in mind an adjustment was made to flatten the playing area. Now the 10 yard line in football serves as the 18 yard line in soccer, the soccer goaline is two yards in from the end on the end-zone, and the goalie is happily placed back on a level surface.

Howard, Harvard's semi-final opponent on the 28th in Miami, is an exceptional team composed completely of freshmen and sophomores, all of whom are from outside the U.S. Last year, Howard played in the national semi-finals against UCLA. Leading the Bruins, 3-2. with 15 minutes to go, the Bisons wilted under pressure and dropped a 4-3 decision.

In the Bison's soccer publicity pamphlet this year, coach Lincoln Phillips, former coach and goalie for the now defunct Washington Darts pro team, was so upset by the loss that he returned to his native Trinidad and personally handpicked 12 freshmen recruits.

The results so far this season have been devastating. At the start of the campaign, the squad was "just learning to work together," Phillips said, and narrowly squeaked by Akron and Newark Engineering by identical 2-1 scores. "They're playing a lot better now and scoring a lot more goals," Phillips said.

Smashing the Lions

In its last tournament match for the southern crown on December 4, Howard completely smashed Penn State, a team which had upended Penn, 2-1, the previous Tuesday by holding the Lions to no goals on only five shots, while riddling State's nets with eight scores.

The Bison's top players are All-Americans Keith Aqui and Alvin Henderson, both from Trinidad. Freshman Ian Bain, also from Trinidad and Guinea's Mori Biane round out Howard's forward wall. Strong goalkeeping has been provided this season by Samuel Tetteh from Ghana.

Commenting on his squad's background, Phillips said. "Howard has the highest number of foreign students in America and a lot of people come here just 'cause they know of it. In Trinidad and the West Indies, the only school they've heard of is Howard."

Buying Players?

Penn State coach Herb Schmidt was more critical of the Bison's recruiting technique. "They flat went out and bought all those ball players, there's no question about it," he said. "In general, they're the toughest physical group of foreigners I've ever seen. They attack you and if they don't get the ball, they get you."

Howard is physically a big team, with its two middle men both 6ft. 4in. They usually play in a 4-2-4 formation and on defense go man-to-man, while employing a sweeper back. The Bisons have a powerful attack which moves the ball strictly on the ground and usually up the middle. They can go up the wings but unlike a normal offense the wings never cross.

On defense, Howard's height gives it a tremendous ability to clear head balls. The Bisons, who emphasize defense above all in their play, stack the middle on defense and are an extremely sure tackling team.

"When we played them, our goaltender went out to make a save. As he covered the ball, one of their guys flew by him, kicking him in the anus as hard as he could," Penn State's Schmidt said. "He was on the ground paralyzed for five minutes. I mean he couldn't move."

Fortunately, this type of strategy may be playing right into the Crimson's hand, as Harvard is extremely strong in the middle on defense and likes to take the ball up the wings, frequently crossing the ball from side to side.

"If there are no changes, it looks like it will be our strong points against their weaknesses," Munro explained. "This will put Felix (Adedeji) against their weakest fullback."

Senior goalie SHEP MESSING makes a clearing pass after stopping a Hartwick shot in the Eastern Championships won by Harvard, 4-1, on December 4. Messing and the rest of the squad leave for the Orange Bowl Sunday.