M. SOCCER NOTEBOOK: Crimson Struggles to Find Back of Net

After scoring just three goals in as many games to open up the season, the Harvard men’s soccer team thought that it had finally brought its inability to score under control when it notched seven goals in just two games against Hartford and UMass.

But following those matches, the Crimson (4-5-1, 0-1-0 Ivy) has scored just twice, and been shutout twice in 1-0 losses. The most recent of these blankings came against Yale (2-6-0, 1-0-0) on Saturday.

And while Harvard outshot the Bulldogs 6-4 in the second half—a game in which Yale coach Brian Tompkins said he was lucky to come away with a win—it was unable to get many of those on net, and forced Bulldog netminder Geoff Hollington to save just one shot.

Further hindering the Crimson’s scoring chances was the loss of the team’s leader in goals (4) and points (10), junior midfielder Anthony Tornaritis, who has also seen some action at forward this year. Tornaritis was given a red card in the waning seconds of Harvard’s 2-1 loss to Maine on Tuesday for swearing while arguing a call with a referee.

“Not having Tony out there hurt us,” said junior captain and defender Will Craig. “He’s a catalyst for our offense, and is able to get in and out of tight places.”

“It hurt, it hurt,” Harvard coach John Kerr said. “We missed him.”

And while sophomore forward Charles Altchek’s return injected some much needed height into a starting Crimson midfield and offense, which averages just under 5’9 without him, it was still apparent that he hadn’t fully recovered from spraining his MCL against Hartford. Afterwards, Altchek—who was wearing a supportive brace—admitted that the knee was still causing him a lot of pain.

Harvard also had trouble getting the ball high enough into the air to make it playable during corners and free kicks, making it easier for the Yale defense to clear it out of the zone.

THE IVY SITUATION

With the opening Ivy weekend now behind all of the teams in the league, it has become clear why Kerr has stressed the importance of starting out 1-0 in conference play. Defending Ivy-champion Brown—who also has the second-best overall record at 4-2-2, and is considered likely to repeat their championship performance—handed Columbia (2-6-2, 0-1-0) a 3-2 loss.

Meanwhile, Ivy-leading Penn (5-2-1, 1-0-0) beat Cornell (1-7-0, 0-1-0) 2-0, and Princeton (4-2-2, 0-0-1) and Dartmouth (2-1-4, 0-0-1) played to a scoreless tie.

Still, the Crimson remains optimistic about their Ivy chances.

“It’s really hard to go undefeated in the Ivy League,” Craig said. “If we can beat Cornell next week and then Brown later, we’ll be right back in there.”

HOLD THE LINE

Harvard also took some unexpected steps to try and put extra pressure on the Yale defense during the second half.

Though sophomore defender David Williams was replaced by classmate Tom Stapleton—who started the game as a midfielder—at the left back position as has happened on several occasions throughout the year, seniors Jason Anderson and Sam Wiggin were also taken out as the clock started to wind down. They were replaced by junior Jeff Chivers and senior Ben Mottau, respectively, though Anderson was taken out of the game at a much earlier point that Wiggin was.

Chivers has now come off the bench to rack up significant minutes in the past three games.

“We were definitely trying to pressure them more with that,” Craig said.

—Staff writer Evan R. Johnson can be reached at erjohns@fas.harvard.edu.

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