I saw Midd was planning a scrimmage against Union for this Friday. So... while they will have less than a week of practice under their belts, we'll see what kind of fire power they've been working on in the off season. I do know that nearly half of their recruits for this coming year were long poles, and there's at least one walk on who has a pretty long list of HS acheivements. But when I spoke earlier about tradition, it is more about the attitude of the entire program would be there are no rebuilding years and you better step up or step off. If the history is such that you are always in the middle of the pack.. not sure you can use "tradition" or "brotherhood" as your call to arms in the huddle. I agree that midd's defense last year had a lot of holes, slower slides and quite honestly, lacked a physicality that I would expect from a top team. Tufts, in the game that I saw, also had a lot of unforced turnovers and played very unsettled throughout. Arguably, Midd's offense kept them in many games and unfortunately, they just weren't balanced on both ends of the field which was clear in their game against Cort big time. With no bulwark throughout the season, as it happens, there is limited underclassmen game experience among the midfield and attack so in that respect it really is hard to judge fully on what their offense is capable of achieving in '10. Truthfully, I think their D is going to be huge this year, but I do think their biggest question is going to come in goal. And wheniwasakid is absolutely right: It will all come down to hard work and the current roster.
And to be clear, I never disagreed with Swank in his estimations or his previews of any of the teams. Nor did I say tradition by itself wins games. But it sure does give a team a reason to dig really deep when the chips are down. Both defeats to Wes were by one goal, so it wasn't as if anyone was kicking their butts and while you can certainly thank the big guns in the midfield and attack, senior-laden talent, etc, you have to also see that even with a less than perfect D, few could say they weren't the team to beat. It is a storied program and it's not going to just roll over and point to parity in the NESCAC.
Away from Midd and what they will or wont accomplish, I am hoping for big moves upward for Colby. I know Swank doesn't necessarily see it, but word on the street is they've got a great new freshman goalie that is, by some accounts, pretty amazing and plays as a fourth close defender. Who knows if he will see time in the pipes, but I think that alone could move them up the rankings pretty quickly. But again.. until we see a scrimmage or two and maybe even the first game or so under the belt, I think when you have younger rosters, there is too much unknown to espouse anything emphatically. And perhaps that more than anything is what was disappointing about MIdd last year with the senior talent they had at their disposal. If there is a lesson there, it's that you have to maintain balance as a team and no one player can win games.