AoTW: Altchek Sparks Harvard Offense
Altchek accounted for three of the Crimson’s four goals in a 3-0 win over Coastal Carolina and a 1-1 tie against Furman. He was also named MVP of the Harvard Invitational for his effort over the two games.
Over Harvard’s first three games, Altchek has played the finishing role in half of the goals scored and in most of the opportunities on net.
“[Altchek is a guy that is going to give headaches to every team,” Crimson coach John Kerr said. “Just his physical presence is a menace. He kick-starts our offense and is creating opportunities on his own.”
Last season Altchek similarly sparked the Crimson offense as he had two of its three goals by the fourth game of the season. But this past weekend, his outburst played a key role in earning the win and the tie to keep Harvard’s home record unblemished.
With the score 0-0 late in the first half against Costal Carolina on Friday, the 6’2” Altchek showed that height is not his only advantage. After the ball deflected off a defender’s head, he beat Chanticleers goalie Aaron Weant to the ball and thus had an open net for the easy score.
Similarly, his second goal of the game came on a hustle play as he charged in towards the penalty box as senior forward Nicholas Tornaritis dribbled around the defenders. Once Tornaritis had an opening on the right side of the goal, he was able to make an easy pass to the streaking Altchek on the left side for another score.
Two days later, Altchek broke another scoreless tie when he put in the Crimson’s only goal against Furman. In a burst of emotion, after the ball hit the back of the net, he took off his shirt, ran around, and finished by hugging the referee.
“After Sunday’s game, the Furman coach—who had been getting on [Altchek] all game, came up to him,” Kerr said. “He said to him, ‘Hey big guy, I like your passion for the game.’”
With the absences of junior Matt Hoff and sophomore Mike Fucito—who combined for 20 points for the Crimson last season—Altchek will have to bear more of the burden. This weekend, he proved he is up to the challenge of sparking the Harvard offensive unit.
“He was a real inspiration on Sunday,” Kerr said. “When everyone was tired, he was running all over the place. His energy level is fantastic.”
Kerr also attributes part of Altchek’s early season success to the two years of collegiate level soccer and preseason training in England that Altchek has on his resume.
Last season, Altchek finished with 12 points overall and five goals, while freshman year he notched three scores and one assist. With a new role on this year’s offense and a fast start to the season, he could be in the midst of his most prolific season yet.
As this weekend proved, with a potent Altchek to compliment a defense that senior goaltender Ryan Johnson said could post “10 or 11 shutouts this season,” Harvard could make a strong run at postseason play.
—GABRIEL M. VELEZ