Defending a 6-0-3 record and an unbeaten Ivy League slate, the varsity soccer squad will face its traditional nemesis, Pennsylvania, this morning at 10:30 p.m. in Philadelphia. The Quakers have only a tie with Brown to mar their Ivy standing, and pose, along with Yale, a dangerous threat to another League title for the Crimson.
Recent seasons have been distinguished by Crimson disasters at the hands of Penn elevens. Last fall, for instance, in a game here, the varsity scored two goals in the first five minutes against the Quakers, only to be handed an eventual 2-2 tie that nearly killed all chances for the Ivy crown.
On its home field, Penn can be even more difficult. Two years ago, an underdog Quaker team crushed the Crimson, 6 to 2, at Philadelphia. Pennsylvania has the narrowest field in the League, and only the Quakers seem to know just how to play on it.
The Penn offense, which depends on fast, hard-shooting wings to move the ball, can do well on any field. Munro has said of the Quakers: "They bring the ball from the middle of the field to the goal faster than any other team I ever saw."
On the other hand, the Crimson offense has been jamming up all season long. Munro recently opened out the team's attack, but the small Penn field will help to stifle it again.
Inside Ray Schroth and a host of sophomore linemen from last year's freshman squad, the best in the Ivy League, will lead the Quakers' down-the-field drives. Captain John Jerbasi is a fine center halfback, and giant Bob Trigg will give out a few bruises at his fullback post. The entire Penn squad is big, fast, and strong, and the smaller varsity will have to hustle.
Munro has juggled his starting line after the encouraging results of his experimenting against Wesleyan Thursday. Today, Larry Ekpebu will go back to his old position, wing, where he terrorized Ivy defenses last fall. John Hedreen will move to center forward, and Tadgh Sweeney will open at inside, a position which Munro feels will allow him to use his size and brawn to greater advantage.
Dick McIntosh will pair with Ekpebu at wing, and John Mudd will be the other inside. The halfback line of Marsh McCall, Bill Rapp, and Charlie Steele should give Jerbasi and his partners at least an even battle, and Lanny Keyes and Tim Morgan at fullback will take some of the sting from the Penn attack. Still harboring the memory of his 1957 varsity baptism, when Penn tallied four times in one period against him, goalie Tom Bagnoli will be hard to score on this morning.
Injuries to key personnel may force Munro to do some more innovating. Mudd is still bothered by a trick ankle, although the varsity's trainer has devised a new way of taping it. If Mudd is hurt, McIntosh may be moved to inside. After less than five minutes of inside play against Wesleyan, McIntosh knocked in his first goal since the B.U. game, and Sam Rodd has shown promise at McIntosh's wing spot.
Hedreen and McCall also may not play the entire contest. If Hedreen defects, Ekpebu may play center, or Keith Lowe may come in. Pete Savage, Bill Driver, and Bill King are all excellent substitutes, but none can replace McCall, whom Munro calls "the best halfback I know."
Success against the Quakers is vital. "We're woried about Yale, Penn, and Princeton, in that order," Munro said Thursday. "The Penn game will go a long way toward determining how we finish."