Defensive Woes Befall M. Soccer's South Swing

The Harvard men’s soccer team struggled to kick its season into gear, dropping two of three on a Southern swing to start the season.

“We played a lot better on Friday than last Tuesday—we worked out the kinks,” said sophomore forward Charles Altchek in reference to the Crimson’s consecutive 3-1 season-opening losses to URI and Coastal Carolina, respectively. “Everyone was feeling really good coming into the Furman game, and it showed on the field.”

With the conclusion of the Furman tournament—in which the Crimson (1-2) played against the Chanticleers (4-0) on Friday and the Paladins (0-3-1) yesterday—Harvard now prepares for next weekend’s UMass classic, where it will play against Hartford and UMass.


After giving up three goals in each of its first two games, the Crimson put together a stronger defensive effort—led by junior co-captain Will Craig who took home the tourney’s defensive MVP—and took advantage of a team that has scored just one goal in four games.

Although the offense only managed one score for the third straight game, the defensive commitments to improve teamwork and awareness proved to be the difference yesterday.

“There were some kinks in the first game [on Friday], but everyone played real solid on Sunday,” junior goaltender Ryan Johnson said. “We had great communication and that’s key—it makes my job easier. The defense really stepped up today and hopefully will for the rest of the season.”

Harvard’s lone goal came from Altchek, his second of the year, both of which have come unassisted. Thirty-three minutes into the game, Altchek surprised the defense when he intercepted a pass between the Furman goaltender and his teammate deep in the Paladins’ zone.

“The ball came loose,” Altchek said. “Then I found myself one-on-one against the goalie and I moved right and shot the ball just under him.”

From there, the Harvard defense took over and matched Furman’s physical style of play to earn the shut out.

“Both teams were high intensity,” Johnson said. “We had to push on them all second half to get the win.”

Each team was given four yellow cards by the official, but no players were sent off the field. Harvard outshot Furman 14-7, the second game in a row in which the Crimson attack at least doubled up on its opponent in this category.


After junior midfielder Anthony Tornaritis scored the first goal of the contest in the 11th minute to put CCU behind for the first time all season, the Chanticleers overwhelmed Harvard to take home the victory in the opening game of the Invitational.

CCU’s Boyzzz Khumalo and Jordie Hughes practically handed the Crimson its second-straight loss all by themselves as they tacked on two goals and three assists, respectively. With the score knotted at one in the 29th minute, Khumalo took a pass behind the Harvard defense, with only Johnson between him and the net. As Johnson came out to challenge the attacker, Khumalo put the ball past him and gave the Chanticleers a lead it would fight hard to keep.

And though the Crimson had an idea of CCU’s speed—the Chanticleers did boast the Offensive MVP of the tourney and Zimbabwean track star, Mubarike Chisoni, among others—it still left the field in awe.

“[Khumalo] had great pace,” Johnson said. “He came through the defense really fast, made a move and was quick around me. He has lightning speed—he was flying.”

Despite outshooting the Chanticleers 16-7, the Crimson could not fight off the CCU attack.

In the 62nd minute, the Crimson had a chance to pull within a goal of the Chanitcleers after CCU’s Kevin Van Den Berg was sent off with a red card. The penalty came as a result of Van Den Berg’s slide tackle from behind on junior midfielder Nicholas, according to several Crimson players. Despite the extra-man advantage though, Harvard’s improved offense were still unable to find the back of the net.

Chisoni—who already has eight goals—added the insurance score in the 57th minute to put the game out of reach for Harvard. Khumalo is second on the Chanticleers’ list with four, having picked up two against the Crimson.


Unlike the last two games in which Harvard was leading during at least one point during the game and held its opponent to just seven shots, the Crimson let up 17 and managed to get off only four during the loss to the Rams (3-1).

Harvard did tie the match at 1-1 with less than 20 minutes to play on an Altchek goal, but Rhode Island put itself back ahead again at the 84:22 mark on a direct kick from Sasha Gotsmanov, who had assisted on the Rams’ earlier goal. URI added to that 2-1 lead just a few minutes later on a score by Jeffrey Gonsalves, his second of the afternoon.

Harvard was also whistled for three yellow cards during the day.

—Staff writer Gabriel M. Velez can be reached at