Weekend Showing Proves There’s No Place Like Home for M. Soccer

Harvard wins, ties in first pair of 10 games at Ohiri Field

Jessica E. Zbikowski

Junior Charles Altchek had three goals on the weekend, including the Crimson’s only score in a 1-1 tie with Furman.

Home field advantage is only as good as the players who keep it alive on the field.

With a win over Coastal Carolina and a tie against Furman, the Harvard men’s soccer team opened its season at Ohiri Field with two strong defensive efforts.

“We are back at ground zero,” captain Will Craig said. “But the biggest thing is that we are still undefeated at home and that’s how we want to keep it.”

Junior forward Charles Altchek notched three goals in two games and senior goalie Ryan Johnson only gave up one en route to a 3-0 win over the Chanticleers and a 1-1 tie with the Paladins.

The two games marked the first of 10 home games the Crimson (1-1-1) will play on Ohiri Field due to a large number of away matches over the last few seasons.


The weekend may have started out well for Harvard, but things didn’t end as happily after double overtime in its second game.

The Crimson suffered a disappointing 1-1 tie in a 110-minute game against Furman (0-3-4).

“We had a good performance today,” said Harvard coach John Kerr. “We just didn’t execute those times when we had opportunities to polish them off and get that second goal which would have buried them.”

Harvard’s only goal came in the second half. After receiving the ball from freshman forward John Stamatis, Altchek brought the ball in to shoot from four yards out, just hitting the right corner of the goal.

After the goal, Altchek showed his happiness by taking off his shirt and hugging one of the referees.

Altchek had a couple of breakaway chances earlier on in the game, but it was the first time he was able to convert on the opportunity.

“He’s a real threat,” Kerr said. “Any time the ball is in the air, the other team has to be worried about him.”

But for most of the game the last thing anyone wanted to do was hug the referees, who doled out eight yellow cards throughout the physical contest.

The worst incident—which left senior midfielder Jeff Chivers with a broken ankle—came when a Paladin player slammed into Chivers after the whistle was blown.

“[He] took a cheap shot on him on the sideline,” Kerr said. “He came in and chopped him.”

But even when Harvard had the man-up advantage—after a second yellow card was given to Furman’s David Prentice—the Crimson was not able to convert any more opportunities, including eight corner kicks.

“They are a really good team they battled us hard just like they did last year,” Craig said. “It was real physical. A couple of our guys took a hit. It was tough.”

The Paladins were able to come in with 5:26 in the second half and score their goal by sneaking a shot past Johnson into the right corner of the net.


After two games last year, the team was 0-2 and had given up a total of six goals.

With a 3-0 romp of Coastal Carolina in the opening contest of the Harvard Invitational, the Crimson showed that this year’s defense is no longer a liability.

“We have talented players—when they work together, it’s hard to stop them,” Kerr said.

After a disappointing season-opening 1-0 loss to Vermont, Harvard bounced back with an offensive juggernaut. The Crimson posted 17 shots against the Chanticleers (2-3-0).

Altchek—the only returning starter on the front line—led the way with two goals and a gritty performance, winning a number of jump balls against the Coastal Carolina defenders.

Altchek’s first came late in the first half when he caught a lucky break and converted on the opportunity. In the 43rd minute of play, a deep jump ball skidded off of the head of the Chanticleers’ Bobby Zimmer and to the right of charging goalkeeper Aaron Weant. Altchek burst past the surprised Weant and put the ball into the back of the net for an easy goal.

Harvard’s second goal came in the second half on another attentive play by Altchek. In the 16th minute, Nicholas Tornaritis took the ball just past midfield and dribbled up the middle through three defenders. His pass to the left of the goal hit a streaking Altchek, who banged home the ball for a two-goal lead.

“We finished our opportunities—we had a lot of good work from the forwards,” Craig said.

As time wound down late in the contest, Harvard began to pull off the throttle and took most of its starters out of the game. Nevertheless, the Crimson maintained its defensive focus and finished out its first shutout of the season with a number of nonstarters on the field.

“I was glad to see that we didn’t lose an inch with the substitutes in there,” Kerr said.

With some of the substitutes in the game, Harvard managed to score its final goal of the afternoon on a penalty kick by senior Brian Charnock with 25 minutes remaining. Stamatis drew the foul in the top of the Chanticleers’ penalty box that Charnock converted.

With the win, the Crimson set itself off on the right foot at home and began to build its resume for postseason play.

“They are all quality teams we bring up here,” Craig said. “From our perspective, it’s great to play quality opposition to get ready for those tough Ivy, 1-0 games.”

—Staff writer Abigail M. Baird can be reached at ambaird@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Gabriel M. Velez can be reached at gmvelez@fas.harvard.edu.