“Steve is a great shooter when he just shoots with confidence and whips it,” Crimson coach Scott Anderson said. “We had guys dodging and moving the ball well, and that’s what you really want on attack and they did a great job today.”
Blessed with a great deal of depth at attack, Harvard (1-0) started freshman Greg Cohen at attack alongside his brother and junior Mike McBride against the Hawks (0-1). The Cohens were immediately able to establish a connection, as Greg assisted on Steve’s first and last goals.
“I love playing with my brother,” Steve Cohen said. “I really missed having him out there last year. We’ve been playing together in the backyard, in school, for as long as I can remember.”
Greg Cohen led a strong offensive output from the freshman class, as his two assists set the tone for six first-year players who picked up points in their Crimson debuts. Freshmen attackman Brian Mahler and midfielders Carle Stenmark—the younger brother of Harvard captain Spencer Stenmark—and Evan Calvert each had a goal, while midfielder Adam Mahfouda netted two goals and attackman Brandon Logigian—brother of former tri-captain midfielder Doug Logigian—had an assist to go along with a tally.
“I thought the freshmen all played well,” Anderson said. “You can just see their athleticism on the field and that’s what we’re really excited about for the future. It’s a challenge to play so many of them together, but we have enough leadership out there that we feel comfortable.”
The tone for the day was set by quint-captain and goalie Jake McKenna. The preseason Honorable Mention All-American did not allow a goal in the first quarter despite a few early Hartford opportunities. At the other end, sophomore midfielder Jake Samuelson, Mahfouda and Steve Cohen had the Crimson up by three at the end of the first period.
McKenna had eight saves while letting in five goals in 55:39 before yielding to senior Rob Bateman, who posted one save.
“McKenna was great today,” sophomore defensive midfielder Peter Doyle said. “It gives you a lot of confidence knowing you have Jake behind you in goal. He’s truly an irreplaceable player.”
Harvard led 4-0 in the second before Hawks sophomore Garrett Kikot, the reigning America East rookie of the year, put Hartford on the board. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Crimson quint-captain Alex Vap ended any thoughts of a rally when he won the ensuing faceoff and sprinted upfield before ripping a shot past goalie Jordan Karem to put Harvard back up by four.
The revamped Crimson defense was also impressive. Sophomore Tom Mikula—a former midfielder—started his first game along the backline, joining longtime starters and quint-captains Spencer Stenmark and Hani Malone. The trio looked very comfortable together, keeping Hartford attackmen away from McKenna for most of the day. In the midfield, Doyle picked up a team-high six groundballs.
Harvard dominated play on both ends, outshooting the Hawks 56-25 in a strong opener.
The Crimson will travel to Lewisburg, Pa. next Saturday to take on Bucknell. Harvard looks to avenge a 10-2 defeat last year at the hands of the Bison.
“We’ve been working really hard in practice, and that showed today,” Steve Cohen said. “We stress that every week we have to get better, though, and last year Bucknell came in here and embarrassed us and we’re looking to go down to Pennsylvania this weekend and return the favor.”
—Staff writer Robert C. Boutwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.