Sophomore Charles Altchek and the men's soccer team ended their season with a 1-0 loss to Penn on Saturday.
Three weeks ago, the Harvard men’s soccer team was atop the Ivy standings, riding a five-game winning streak and one win away from tying coach John Kerr’s record for most victories in a season.
Since then, the Crimson (9-7-1, 3-3-1 Ivy) is winless in three games, has dropped to fifth in the league standings, and has scored just one goal, losing most recently to Penn (7-8-2, 3-3-1) on Saturday, 1-0, to close out the year,
The loss also effectively ended any slim chance Harvard had of earning at at-large berth in the NCAA tournament.
“It’s not the kind of performance you want to end your year on,” said junior captain and defender Will Craig. “We all feel pretty terrible.”
The lone goal of the game came during the ninth minute of play off of a direct kick, and was scored by the Quakers’ Charles Howard off an assist from Joshua Duyan. The Harvard loss also snapped a six-game losing streak for Penn.
“There was nothing [junior goalie] Ryan [Johnson] could do,” sophomore forward Charles Altchek said. “It was a good shot.”
Though the offense had nine shots against the Quakers, it was struggling without the help of junior midfielder Brian Charnock, who had to sit out after being awarded a red card in the final minutes of the Crimson’s 1-0 loss to Columbia last week.
The infraction—Harvard’s fourth red card of the season—was supplemented by five Crimson yellow cards against the Quakers this weekend.
The Harvard offense has been struggling in general as of late. Kerr tried to shake things up on Saturday by having only three defenders start on the backline, moving freshman midfielder Michael Fucito up as a forward.
The scoring funk is particularly surprising considering the team’s output just a few weeks ago.
After scoring 16 goals in the five-game winning streak—which is more than half it scored all year—the offense has cooled off, scoring just one goal since the Oct. 26 game against eventual Ivy champion Dartmouth.
And the lone goal was scored by Craig, a defender.
“The lack of scoring really does fall to [the underclassmen],” Altchek said.
Harvard was also racking up awards earlier in the season.
Fucito won Ivy Rookie of Week and Altchek and junior midfielder Nicholas Tornaritis were tapped for Ivy Player of the Week. Sophomore Matt Hoff was coming off an Ivy Rookie of the Year campaign.
Hoff’s output has been particularly low, as he has scored just three goals this year after putting up eight last season.
“[Hoff] came into the season as a marked man, and a lot of people just keyed up on him,” Craig said.
“The seniors have been playing really well all year, and we, the younger guys, didn’t play well for them,” Altchek said.
Still, prospects appear good for next season, as the Crimson is graduating just two regular starters in defenders Sam Wiggin and Jason Andersen.
Harvard still has a slim chance of keeping its season alive, pending the announcement of bids for the NCAA tournament, which starts next weekend.
With the win, the Quakers finished their season tied with Harvard for fifth place in the Ivy League standings. Dartmouth clinched the Ivy title with a 2-1 win over Brown on Sunday.
—Staff writer Evan R. Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.