Cornell Helps M. Soccer to Victory

CHEK YO'SELF
Jessica E. Zbikowski

Sophomore Charles Altchek fights for possession with Cornell’s Dan Marks during the Crimson’s win over the Big Red. Altchek scored one of four Harvard goals in his first game back from a knee injury,

Having already been beaten in three sports on Saturday, the Cornell men’s soccer team seemed determined to ensure a clean sweep for Harvard if the Crimson wasn’t up to the task, accounting for two own-goals and an assist on a third in Harvard’s 4-0 win.

“At this stage, whatever can go wrong will go wrong with our troop,” Cornell coach Bryan Scales said.

The victory and other Ivy results put Harvard (5-5-0, 1-1-0 Ivy) right back into conference contention. After this weekend, Penn is the only team to have won all of its league games.

The win is also the Crimson’s first over Cornell (1-8-0, 0-2-0)—which is now essentially out of the Ivy title race with two league losses—since 1998. Most recently, Harvard tied the Big Red in Ithaca, 1-1.

“It’s great to [get a shut out],” said junior captain and defender Will Craig. “Ivy League games are hotly contested.”

Scales said he was disappointed with his team’s performance and that he hopes it can start to score some goals again. And even though his team gifted the Crimson a couple of goals, he gave credit to the triumphant Harvard squad.

“Harvard’s got a dangerous team,” Scales said. “I thought they deserved to win today.”

But it wasn’t until the second half that the Crimson managed to break open the flood gates against the Big Red, when it scored two goals within four minutes of each other to take a 3-0 lead, and hammer the nail in the coffin.

The first of these two quick goals came at the 53-minute mark, when freshman midfielder and Ivy League Rookie of the Week Michael Fucito knocked in the team’s second goal of the game off a free kick. Junior midfielder Brian Charnock ripped a shot into the Cornell wall, but the ball immediately bounced back to Fucito’s foot, who beat Big Red goalie David Mahoney to the lower left side.

“I’m happy for him because he’s been threatening all season to score goals,” Harvard coach John Kerr said. “I was pleased to get his name on the score sheet.”

Cornell then scored its second own-goal of the day 3:55 later when Fucito crossed the ball into the middle of the box, and a Big Red defender got to the ball before junior midfielder Nicholas Tornaritis could. The first one had come after junior midfielder Anthony Tornaritis’ shot from outside of the box deflected off of one of the defenders’ foot before finding the back of the net.

“That [goal from Anthony] helped loosen us up a little bit,” Craig said.

That score was also the key difference between this week’s win and last week’s loss to Yale. It allowed the Crimson to enter into the second half with the lead instead of having to play catch up against the Big Red, and it forced Cornell to move out, opening up the field for Harvard and allowing them to get in behind the defenders and make some good crosses.

“Today I told them that [Cornell has] some big guys in the back, [and] you have to get behind them quickly and then cross on the ground hard and low,” Kerr said.

Kerr also attributed the increase in scoring to the team’s ability to cross the balls earlier on and taking advantage of their speed and agility, a necessity for a team that is much smaller in stature than most of its opponents.

During the 67th minute, the Crimson employed this strategy to get behind the Big Red defense after sophomore forward Matt Hoff sent a through ball to classmate Charles Altchek. Though several of the Cornell players looked at the officials expecting an offsides call, none was forthcoming, and Altchek lofted the ball over Mahoney’s head in a one-on-one situation. The tally was Altchek’s first goal since coming back from a knee injury.

“I was just really happy when I finally put one in,” Altcheck said.

Altcheck’s goal was the last point scored from either side but it was not the end of the action. According to the Harvard players, Big Red midfielder Sean Mendy elbowed Hoff in the back of the head as he was running back into the play on the opposite side of the field.

“That’s why Hoff was so mad and in his face—because the guy took a cheap shot,” Craig said.

Hoff ran over to try and even the score, but Altcheck was able to stop any serious retaliation from Hoff.

“The linesman was watching,” Altchek said. “So I knew [Hoff] would get a red card [if I didn’t stop him].”

Mendy was awarded a yellow card for his actions, one of three Cornell players to receive them through the day. Mendy received most of the attention from the crowd, who taunted him for much of the game.

“[The] poor kid,” Craig said. “He was taking a lot of [heat].”

Harvard will need some fire of its own going into this next week against some of the top teams in the region. It faces Holy Cross—ranked fourth in the region by NSCAA—today and No. 21 Brown on Saturday.

“We feel like we’re back in it now,” Craig said.

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