With his speed, effort and skill with the ball, sophomore Mike Fucito, shown here in earlier action, shredded the Brown defense on his way to two goals and three assists in a 6-2 Crimson victory in Providence.
PROVIDENCE—As many Brown fans were seen straggling into Stevenson Field during the second half of Saturday’s soccer showdown with Harvard, several voiced the same reaction upon seeing the scoreboard: “Oh my God.”
In the first 12 minutes of play during that second frame, the Harvard men’s soccer team scored three goals en route to a 6-2 rout of the favored No. 14 Bears (8-3-1, 2-1-1 Ivy). Saturday’s win put the Crimson (9-4-0, 3-1-0) in second place in the Ivy League. The victory was also Harvard’s second against a ranked opponent in a week.
“In the end, we had a really good day and they had a bad one,” Crimson coach John Kerr said. “We made the most of our opportunities.”
Sophomore forward Mike Fucito, with three assists and two goals against Brown, flew all over the field for Harvard and helped pull off the Crimson’s second upset in Providence in its last two trips there.
But Fucito’s biggest play of the afternoon came as he created the opportunity for Harvard’s second goal—after the Crimson had gone down 1-0 in the 11th minute. Using his speed and some extra hustle, Fucito went all the way out to the right to chase a bouncing ball in the Bears’ half of the field. After he gained control, he beat the defender with a low cross to the middle, which freshman André Akpan let go to junior Matt Hoff for the quick shot and the lead.
“[Fucito] just worked really hard yesterday,” captain Charles Altchek said. “He was all over the place, very difficult for their defense, pressuring them. We got goals off of him pressuring their defenders and giving us the ball. He was pretty much unstoppable yesterday.”
Fucito had a similarly brilliant cross to a waiting Altchek, who headed it in for the Crimson’s third goal at just 4:33 into the second half.
“Today, [Fucito] showed that he wanted it defensively and is always a threat,” Kerr said.
After Harvard notched its sixth goal in the 58th minute of play—Fucito’s second goal—Brown coach Mike Noonan removed his starting goalie, David Semenza.
Before Saturday’s match-up, Semenza’s replacement against Harvard, Jarrett Leech, had started the majority of the Bears games.
But against a Crimson offense that had eight shots in its 2-1 win against Fairfield a week ago, Semenza was chosen and could not stop the nine chances Harvard peppered the net with on Saturday.
“We are creating a lot of chances and today seemed to be our day,” Kerr said.
“We were feeling pretty confident going into the game,” Altchek said. “We knew we had the weapons to score a lot of goals. We had been waiting for a breakout game like this all season. [On Saturday], it seemed like everything we did worked out well.”
Defensively, the Crimson was solid enough for the majority of the game to assure the victory and let its offense pick apart the Brown defense. Two mental lapses—on a bad clear early in the first half and on a deflection for an own goal long after the win was secured for Harvard—were the only chinks in the Crimson armor.
Freshman Kwaku Nyamekye had a standout play that sent the majority of the Brown faithful packing. With 15 minutes left to play and the score at 6-1 in favor of Harvard, Brown’s Kevin Davies beat the Crimson defense and caught junior goalie Adam Hahn out of position. He took a second to collect the ball before trying to bury it in the empty net in front of him, but during that short time, Nyamekye recovered and dove in front of him for the goal-saving block.
“He’s a spectacular player,” Kerr said. “It showed his range, his speed, and his desire to make a play.”
Harvard will continue its five-game road stretch on Tuesday night at Holy Cross.
Nyamekye celebrated his nineteenth birthday on Saturday with the goal-stopping thriller....The Crimson now has nine points in Ivy play....Brown held a 8-1-1 record entering play this past week, having sustained its only loss to No. 3 Saint Mary’s. Harvard will likely climb into the national rankings after its upset win.
—Staff writer Gabriel M. Velez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.