Author Topic: NESCAC  (Read 823438 times)

Offline blooter442

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6405 on: October 11, 2018, 10:19:21 pm »
While Tufts does not have the individual talent they did in 2014 they are still very good and the best team in the league. They are more disciplined now than they were in Shapiro's early years and are loaded with depth that they did not have back then. They just do not have a stud that stands out like they once did mainly because IMO their style and tactics. Gone are the days of scoring 7 Goals in the NCAA Semi's and Final and now we have a disciplined, compact, Bobby Clark/ Georgetown/ Dartmouth tedious but effective style of play. They are incredibly fit, have a great work ethic, defend as a team, can go 16 players deep and not drop off, incredibly athletic and just breathe confidence. I obviously cannot argue the results BUT I feel sometimes I am watching a team that is on a tight leash. If Shapiro would let this outfit just come out and play and go at teams and use their skill and all out attack sending numbers forward all game I think we would all have a much different opinion of this bunch. They would be capable of beating some Nescac teams handily while scoring tons of Goals, playing true futbol and be entertaining to watch. They have enough talent that I would guess they would probably have the same record they do now. Would they have loss or two? Maybe...but after going 328 minutes of scoreless NCAA Soccer in 2017(had they advanced over Brandeis in PK's that # could of gone up to 400) why not go out swinging. I feel like this whole "more afraid to lose than going out to win" is not only frustrating for a fan but if I was a player I would be pissed knowing we have such a talented team and we are not opening it up. Yes I realize that the point is to win championships not to entertain BUT you can do both...Instead we get 1-0 half field scrimmages...OPEN THE GAME UP....you have the talent to do it...It is actually much easier to coach what Tufts is doing now compared to say what Pep does at Man City....So we are stuck with the most talented team in the league playing with the motto that Tufts wants to Win but puts way to much emphasis on not wanting to lose.

I actually think Tufts is the most "open" of the NESCAC teams I've watched this year. Williams is up there in terms of aiming to possess and I have seen Bates, Colby, and Conn. play some nice stuff as well, but I can't say that any of them are more attack-minded than Tufts. Maybe I am wrong, but in the 4 times I've watched Tufts this year I've been impressed with their intention to play combinations in the middle and play down the side with overlaps. That being said, I'd agree that they are less "open" in the last few years than they were in, say, in 2014 and 2015, although I'm not sure how much of that is just my perception. I do feel like they are more content to drop into their 4-5-1 and look to regain possession and counter than they are likely to high press as they have done in the past, and maybe that's symptomatic of an increased defensive focus.

As for their position in the league, I think Tufts is the best team in the conference, but not by a large margin at all, as I'd put Conn. right behind. What the Jumbos are, though, is consistent.

Offline Mr.Right

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6406 on: October 12, 2018, 01:20:43 am »
While Tufts does not have the individual talent they did in 2014 they are still very good and the best team in the league. They are more disciplined now than they were in Shapiro's early years and are loaded with depth that they did not have back then. They just do not have a stud that stands out like they once did mainly because IMO their style and tactics. Gone are the days of scoring 7 Goals in the NCAA Semi's and Final and now we have a disciplined, compact, Bobby Clark/ Georgetown/ Dartmouth tedious but effective style of play. They are incredibly fit, have a great work ethic, defend as a team, can go 16 players deep and not drop off, incredibly athletic and just breathe confidence. I obviously cannot argue the results BUT I feel sometimes I am watching a team that is on a tight leash. If Shapiro would let this outfit just come out and play and go at teams and use their skill and all out attack sending numbers forward all game I think we would all have a much different opinion of this bunch. They would be capable of beating some Nescac teams handily while scoring tons of Goals, playing true futbol and be entertaining to watch. They have enough talent that I would guess they would probably have the same record they do now. Would they have loss or two? Maybe...but after going 328 minutes of scoreless NCAA Soccer in 2017(had they advanced over Brandeis in PK's that # could of gone up to 400) why not go out swinging. I feel like this whole "more afraid to lose than going out to win" is not only frustrating for a fan but if I was a player I would be pissed knowing we have such a talented team and we are not opening it up. Yes I realize that the point is to win championships not to entertain BUT you can do both...Instead we get 1-0 half field scrimmages...OPEN THE GAME UP....you have the talent to do it...It is actually much easier to coach what Tufts is doing now compared to say what Pep does at Man City....So we are stuck with the most talented team in the league playing with the motto that Tufts wants to Win but puts way to much emphasis on not wanting to lose.

I actually think Tufts is the most "open" of the NESCAC teams I've watched this year. Williams is up there in terms of aiming to possess and I have seen Bates, Colby, and Conn. play some nice stuff as well, but I can't say that any of them are more attack-minded than Tufts. Maybe I am wrong, but in the 4 times I've watched Tufts this year I've been impressed with their intention to play combinations in the middle and play down the side with overlaps. That being said, I'd agree that they are less "open" in the last few years than they were in, say, in 2014 and 2015, although I'm not sure how much of that is just my perception. I do feel like they are more content to drop into their 4-5-1 and look to regain possession and counter than they are likely to high press as they have done in the past, and maybe that's symptomatic of an increased defensive focus.

As for their position in the league, I think Tufts is the best team in the conference, but not by a large margin at all, as I'd put Conn. right behind. What the Jumbos are, though, is consistent.


That is the current situation in Nescac these days. It is odd for a side like Tufts to be thought of as the most attack minded team in the conference yet still collapse immediately into a 4-5-1 and continually cram the middle of the field full of hard working midfielders. Shuffling in one after another off the bench with the immediate concern being formation, positioning and shape. The idea being Tufts never playing a game where they did not dominate and control midfield. Hence you get 3 central midfielders.  Simply put a 4-5-1 is usually used by teams that are weaker than its opponent, NOT the best team in the league. The purpose being to build a team with a solid back 4 then have Aroh as your holding midfielder with his only responsibility to break up play and nothing else. Then you insert two extremely quick wingers(Tasker/Lane) and an extremely hard working striker who is left for dead up top(Braun). The whole point of a 4-5-1 is not attacking futbol or possession oriented play it is set up to have counters throughout the game. However in Nescac it only amounts to about 3-4 real dangerous counters a game because basically every team is sitting back and absorbing pressure. This is where I am trying to make my point that Tufts being the best team in the league should be bustin out of its shell and going at these other teams. They have the talent to do this in fact every team has the talent to play this way but Tufts us top dog. I mean I would play a 4-5-1 if I am Castleton St taking on Messiah as I am not expecting any possession and I want to keep things tight not when I am the best team in the league hosting Bates.. No matter what Tufts is doing either in 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1 or 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1 it does not matter as every Nescac team is just sitting back and soaking up pressure which in turn makes Tufts attack more stifled and slow.  This is not a Tufts problem IT IS A LEAGUE PROBLEM.  Basically, every team is playing week in and week out with the main goal of soaking up pressure hence we get treated to 0-0 and 1-0 games, if lucky maybe 2-1. See Amherst is in a 4-3-3 BUT Serpone tucks his wingers in so damn tight when Amherst does not have the ball it looks like a 4-5-1 anyway but when they do get the ball they have(well used to have) some really solid chances off the counter. Williams is always in a 4-2-3-1 these days. Same with Colby..on and on...It is almost like both teams in a Nescac game are just willing to sit back and wait for a couple counters. Make sure all 11 starters are in their defensive side of the field and you will always have a man on the ball. This is why I was so curious when you posted last year about Tufts playing in a 3-5-2. Now that system is total risk/reward as I am wondering how many games he stayed in a 3-5-2 if any AND when they were in it did he allow his wingbacks to bomb forward. I am guessing because of the leadership of Coleman organizing a back 3 with the help of Kulcsar right in front to keep everything in check it allowed Shapiro the opportunity to take a small risk and play a system fraught with some danger. I would have liked to see Tufts in that system but I do not remember it at all. With Shapiro able to trust a player like Kulcsar I imagine it gave Shapiro the freedom last year to use the 4-1-4-1.....IDK.....I am rambling but I just want to see more teams in Nescac get sack and embrace the risk/reward of playing futbol. These coaches must stop being so afraid of giving up the 1st Goal in a game.














« Last Edit: October 12, 2018, 01:39:06 am by Mr.Right »

Offline truenorth

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6407 on: October 12, 2018, 08:02:18 am »
I agree with the observation that defensive alignments and the soaking up of pressure are a league-wide "problem" in the NESCAC.  My guess is this is due to the fact that the league is so competitive from top to bottom, and also because the league is contained within such a compact geographic region.  These coaches and programs know each other well and see each other 10 times a season during an intense 6-7 week time period.  It's different from the UAA, where the schools are spread around the country and fly to away games.  In the NESCAC every point counts, thus the value of draws over losses.  So yes, most of the NESCAC coaches seem to take a conservative approach to ensure their chances of getting to the post-season tournament(s).  If the league were top heavy with one or two ultra dominant teams and a bunch of real weaklings, it would probably be much easier for the dominant teams to open up and play wide open attacking football.

Offline PaulNewman

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6408 on: October 12, 2018, 09:00:37 am »
The mini-disagreement here RE:  whether there is any separation between Tufts and the rest of the NESCAC and if so how much --which I think I at least informally started here -- seems to mirror the little spat I got into in the other thread (whether there is separation between solid to very good D1 players and very good to standout D3 players, muddled somewhat by the same kind of question between D3 and D1 programs....and also muddled by most of us never quite knowing how to describe Messiah and its attraction perhaps totally irrespective of NCAA Division).

I'm not trying to be wedded to certain words ("head and shoulders," etc) and am more interested in whether or not there is some degree of consensus perception.  If I'm reading this right, it seems those chiming in are basically agreeing that Tufts currently is the top program and then the rest is a matter of proportion in terms of degree of separation.

So, without getting caught up in the exact words, here is what goes into what I think....All or most of the NESCACs have long histories and are capable of drawing some good players, and most have good to very good coaches.  As we've seen from parents involved in the recruitment game, many kids/families would be pretty happy with any NESCAC.  So what, at least at the present time, IMO, makes Tufts a little different?  First, two national titles in 4 years, wrapped around a Sweet 16 loss on a last minute goal and an Elite 8 loss on a golden goal.  The coach developed and led a program that as Mr.Right has said was left with "a cup of stale coffee and bag of old balls with a couple of cones."  He's turned the program into one where apparently Tufts now gets kids who might otherwise have gone to Williams or Amherst or Midd or Bowdoin.  It at least feels like they have created more of a "program" or machine-like deal, and currently there is a vibe and tradition going on that sells itself, with the new guys coming in every year buying in.  Is is just a coincidence that Tufts is the program that had kids put together a pretty impressive video series which in addition to being fun for the players participating probably doesn't hurt for recruiting either?  And then there is the depth, being able to go 16/17/18 deep with little to no drop-out and an ability to put sustained pressure on other teams throughout the midfield so that they have little time to breathe.  I'd love to know if and how Shapiro changed the messaging after he took over...maximizing the distinction of the NESCAC so close to Boston, the difference in size of the school and offerings, personal appeal as a person/coach, etc.  I presume Tufts doesn't get more "tips" than other NESCACs simply because of its larger size.  I think one could fairly ask how much Tufts might drop if Shapiro moved on too.  I'm not sure it's like Messiah or OWU where the tradition of the programs would keep things going even when the coach moves on.

Of course none of that means other NESCACs can't beat Tufts on any given day as they say.  Conn beat them twice in the first national title season, and almost prevented them from even having a shot at a title.  Other teams have beaten them.  They've had draws or tight 1-goal wins against Colby/Bates, etc.....The competition is tough and that likely will not change, but we can still ask about style and whether Tufts might do as well or better if they "opened up" more and played more offensively.  I agree with Mr.Right that the Jumbos should be able to consistently get more than 4-5 clean chances a game to score with the current talent level and depth. 
« Last Edit: October 12, 2018, 10:09:46 am by PaulNewman »

Offline truenorth

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6409 on: October 12, 2018, 10:43:28 am »
I concur with some of the points you raised PaulNewman.  From all appearances, Shapiro has built a sustained program at Tufts.  For high school seniors who are relatively agnostic about which NESCAC school they want to attend, or for those who are drawn to the bright lights of the big city, it would be an attractive place to go.

A partial counterpoint would be that if I were a high caliber high school soccer player with strong academic credentials and an interest in the NESCAC, do I want to go to Tufts with its recent winning heritage and its deep roster, or do I want to perhaps be more of an impact player at highly desirable places like Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin and Middlebury (all of which rank ahead of Tufts in most academic college rankings)?

Offline Mr.Right

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6410 on: October 12, 2018, 11:28:22 am »
I concur with some of the points you raised PaulNewman.  From all appearances, Shapiro has built a sustained program at Tufts.  For high school seniors who are relatively agnostic about which NESCAC school they want to attend, or for those who are drawn to the bright lights of the big city, it would be an attractive place to go.

A partial counterpoint would be that if I were a high caliber high school soccer player with strong academic credentials and an interest in the NESCAC, do I want to go to Tufts with its recent winning heritage and its deep roster, or do I want to perhaps be more of an impact player at highly desirable places like Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin and Middlebury (all of which rank ahead of Tufts in most academic college rankings)?


I actually believed PN's analysis of Tufts was spot on before your post put a exclamation point on it. I am not going to dig deep into this because we have discussed this numerous times but the Tufts turnaround is nothing short of brilliant. As much as I have questioned Shapiro's tactics recently I will never question what he has done at Tufts. The "building" of an atmosphere which almost seems is on autopilot at this point is fantastic. He is the best recruiter in Nescac and at this point the school sells itself. However, as truenorth stated once Shapiro/Tufts started to steal players from Williams and Amherst you knew that Tufts was going to become a power. I have seen a couple players that have turned down Williams/Midd and gone to Tufts and 10 years ago it would be hard to find any player doing that. He has my utmost respect for building this program into a NCAA Championship contender every year and even harder building it into a consistent winner year to year. I was just criticizing his tactics because of all the talent he has now. I would hope that if Tufts has another NCAA exit with trouble scoring goals this year that Shapiro would maybe change things up a bit in 2019.

Offline oldonionbag

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6411 on: October 12, 2018, 12:04:52 pm »
Truenorth - just to counter your point:

"if I were a high caliber high school soccer player with strong academic credentials and an interest in the NESCAC, do I want to go to Tufts with its recent winning heritage and its deep roster"...YES! Tufts is never ranked as a liberal arts school due to its graduate schools/med school/vet school, etc (only NESCAC not to be considered "liberal arts"); rather its considered a national university in college rankings so has to compete against the Harvards, Yales, Ivies, U Chicagos, etc.

If we're talking purely undergraduate liberal arts then I don't think there is much difference between the top tier NESCACS (Amhert, Williams, Midd, Bowdoin, Tufts). I know we've had this on the boards before, but in terms of 2019 acceptance rates, 1. Amherst & Bowdoin are 14%...Tufts and Williams are 15%...Colby and Wesleyan are 16%...Middlebury is 17%...then a slight drop off with Bates at 22%.

Again, my point is that I don't think that a "high caliber player" thinks he'll lose anything "academically" by choosing any one of the top NESCAC schools over the other. To echo Mr. Right's comments, that's why Tufts has been able to get the kids Amherst and Williams used to get all the time over the other schools. Academic excellence is guaranteed at any one of these schools, but consistent and recent winning tradition is currently only guaranteed at one...

My two cents on the recent and sustained success of the program.

Offline PaulNewman

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6412 on: October 12, 2018, 12:42:21 pm »
I concur with some of the points you raised PaulNewman.  From all appearances, Shapiro has built a sustained program at Tufts.  For high school seniors who are relatively agnostic about which NESCAC school they want to attend, or for those who are drawn to the bright lights of the big city, it would be an attractive place to go.

A partial counterpoint would be that if I were a high caliber high school soccer player with strong academic credentials and an interest in the NESCAC, do I want to go to Tufts with its recent winning heritage and its deep roster, or do I want to perhaps be more of an impact player at highly desirable places like Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin and Middlebury (all of which rank ahead of Tufts in most academic college rankings)?

As someone fascinated with the psychology of the college search and selection process, this is the kind of discussion I love.  A few minor responses....

I have lived 40-45 miles from the Tufts campus.  Never had a thought about Tufts for either of my kids, aside from whether or not they would have been admitted (and both would have been competitive without athletics).  Knew it was a very good school but not a place I was ever excited about.  Now let me be clear.....Tufts would have had NO interest in my kid in terms of soccer.  He didn't pursue recruitment much at all anywhere for a couple of reasons that I won't go into here.  His dream NESCAC was Colby, where he was admitted regular decision, but since he wasn't an early decision recruit, the coach wouldn't even commit to a likely roster spot.  In the end he picked Kenyon over Colby because he had a spot (with what ended up to be 19 other frosh) and got some merit money, and all worked out very well.  At any rate, to partially endorse oldonionbag, I think Tufts' reputation academically has risen (risen from an already fairly lofty place), and perhaps its reputation greater on more of a national than local level.  We've noted many times the ways Tufts is different than the other NESCACs (and more like UAAs).  Anyway, I don't think most folks blink or think there is a significant prestige difference between Tufts and the four other NESCACs you cited.  So, perhaps not as highly desirable to me or you, but there are many others out there who seem to think Tufts as a school is out of this world.  Just my sense.

Second point.  If coming through now as a "smart" recruit, I actually might look more seriously at one of the others BECAUSE of concerns regarding Tufts' depth and quality of the soccer program.  In other words, I could see kid thinking their chances of actually playing and starting might be better at the others you cited.

Offline blooter442

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6413 on: October 12, 2018, 12:54:52 pm »
My two cents on the recent and sustained success of the program.

All valid points, but I don't think that was what truenorth was getting at I think he was more or less speaking to the fact that a given player, all other things equal, may have a more difficult time getting playing time at Tufts versus Williams/Amherst/Midd/Bowdoin and that perhaps it may behoove a player to go somewhere where they can be the big fish in the small pond (and go to a given school that is arguably more prestigious).

As for those four schools (Williams/Amherst/Middlebury/Bowdoin), I would also view as being in their own echelon within the NESCAC in terms of prestige. I do agree that academic excellence is prevalent at all schools within the conference, but I've always thought about those four as being in their own segment. Maybe I need to re-examine my opinion. Again, all NESCACs are great schools, and I don't think a kid could go wrong academically by going with a perceived "less prestigious" school within the conference.

Additionally at the risk of parsing words I don't think there's any "guarantee" of those results continuing; no team (including Tufts) has a divine right to success. The framework is certainly there for it to continue, and it's certainly a good situation, but just want to be sure that nothing is pre-ordained in D3 soccer.

Offline Buck O.

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6414 on: October 12, 2018, 12:56:51 pm »
I think one could fairly ask how much Tufts might drop if Shapiro moved on too.  I'm not sure it's like Messiah or OWU where the tradition of the programs would keep things going even when the coach moves on.

Personally, I think that Tufts would do well even if Shapiro were to move on (which I don't expect him to do).  PN, you alluded to this in a later post, where you correctly noted that given its size, location, and majors offered, Tufts is much more like a UAA school than the other NESCAC schools.  As a result, it offers something that the other NESCACs don't, if you don't want to be in Brunswick, ME or Middletown, CT or Clinton, NY, and a hypothetical successor to Shapiro should be able to capitalize on that.

Offline Mr.Right

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6415 on: October 12, 2018, 01:05:17 pm »
Interesting...I can understand how could Serdjenian could not commit a roster spot to a kid he has never seen play. I think you can understand that but more interesting to me is did he follow up and come watch him play or atleast call around to other Coaches in the area to inquire? Was there any effort by him or actually you guys to get him playing in some sort of game in front of Serdjenian? Or was it more of a "your welcome to come tryout in the Fall but i cannot commit to anything" type thing which for a program like Colby is a bit lazy because I am assuming by your post that you were implying your kid did not play club soccer and kind of slipped thru the cracks.

Offline PaulNewman

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6416 on: October 12, 2018, 01:16:38 pm »
My two cents on the recent and sustained success of the program.

All valid points, but I don't think that was what truenorth was getting at I think he was more or less speaking to the fact that a given player, all other things equal, may have a more difficult time getting playing time at Tufts versus Williams/Amherst/Midd/Bowdoin and that perhaps it may behoove a player to go somewhere where they can be the big fish in the small pond (and go to a given school that is arguably more prestigious).

As for those four schools (Williams/Amherst/Middlebury/Bowdoin), I would also view as being in their own echelon within the NESCAC in terms of prestige. I do agree that academic excellence is prevalent at all schools within the conference, but I've always thought about those four as being in their own segment. Maybe I need to re-examine my opinion. Again, all NESCACs are great schools, and I don't think a kid could go wrong academically by going with a perceived "less prestigious" school within the conference.

Additionally at the risk of parsing words I don't think there's any "guarantee" of those results continuing; no team (including Tufts) has a divine right to success. The framework is certainly there for it to continue, and it's certainly a good situation, but just want to be sure that nothing is pre-ordained in D3 soccer.

Bloots, that was actually my point about perhaps better chances to play at the others.  truenorth was raising the prestige issue.

Offline blooter442

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6417 on: October 12, 2018, 01:24:04 pm »
Bloots, that was actually my point about perhaps better chances to play at the others.  truenorth was raising the prestige issue.

You did, but this is what I was referencing:

A partial counterpoint would be that if I were a high caliber high school soccer player with strong academic credentials and an interest in the NESCAC, do I want to go to Tufts with its recent winning heritage and its deep roster, or do I want to perhaps be more of an impact player at highly desirable places like Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin and Middlebury (all of which rank ahead of Tufts in most academic college rankings)?

Offline PaulNewman

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6418 on: October 12, 2018, 01:43:31 pm »
Interesting...I can understand how could Serdjenian could not commit a roster spot to a kid he has never seen play. I think you can understand that but more interesting to me is did he follow up and come watch him play or atleast call around to other Coaches in the area to inquire? Was there any effort by him or actually you guys to get him playing in some sort of game in front of Serdjenian? Or was it more of a "your welcome to come tryout in the Fall but i cannot commit to anything" type thing which for a program like Colby is a bit lazy because I am assuming by your post that you were implying your kid did not play club soccer and kind of slipped thru the cracks.

No he did play club...with the older Savonen kid, Robbie Lynch, Altneu (UVM and Wheaton), Sheridan (Rochester), etc.

Was more a case of blossoming and maturing physically senior year of high school during the period when most of recruiting already done or far along, so partly the decision of thinking he was a decent to good candidate to play came very late.  Also wasn't clear if he might be precluded from playing (medical) so that created some hesitancy for us and at least some coaches.

I'm guessing Serdjenian inquired around a bit...not sure.  We sent tapes around and stuff like that but it was in the January/Feb time frame....was too late for high school season and club season wasn't underway.  The timing of everything was tough.   Would not have been a star at Colby by any means, but certainly could have helped them.  Everything worked out....the academics worked out great and from a soccer perspective Kenyon had a nice run.

Offline PaulNewman

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Re: NESCAC
« Reply #6419 on: October 12, 2018, 01:47:13 pm »
Bloots, that was actually my point about perhaps better chances to play at the others.  truenorth was raising the prestige issue.

You did, but this is what I was referencing:

A partial counterpoint would be that if I were a high caliber high school soccer player with strong academic credentials and an interest in the NESCAC, do I want to go to Tufts with its recent winning heritage and its deep roster, or do I want to perhaps be more of an impact player at highly desirable places like Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin and Middlebury (all of which rank ahead of Tufts in most academic college rankings)?

OK, yes, got it now.