Some might argue that the balanced attack the No. 25 Harvard men’s soccer team displays each game is what had them ranked fourth nationally in scoring last week.
The individual performances, however, have stood out as well.
This past week was a 2-0, seven goal effort from the Crimson (11-4-0, 4-1-0 Ivy), as Harvard downed Holy Cross and Princeton. The work of junior forward Matt Hoff played a key role in making the magic happen this time around.
For his two goals—one a game winner—and an assist, Hoff earned the Ivy League Player of the Week nod a week after sophomore Mike Fucito was given the same title.
The biggest strike Hoff had was his goal against the Crusaders off a volley in the 53rd minute to make it 3-0 Harvard. That spread proved all that the Crimson would need in the 5-2 victory, making Hoff the eighth Harvard player to have a game-winning goal this season.
Hoff’s other highlights last Tuesday include being inches away from another goal on a penalty kick—his attempt rang off the crossbar—and slipping a pass right to freshman André Akpan, who buried it for the game’s opening goal.
“Hoff was just a nuisance for the other team all game on the right side,” said senior Charles Altchek following the victory.
After a tremendous offensive run—the Crimson scored six and five goals against Brown and Holy Cross, respectively—Harvard had a new challenge awaiting in the form of its next opponent, Princeton. The Tigers’ defense had the Crimson working harder to get the goals that had been coming so easily.
That is, until Hoff came in to score the first goal of the game and set Harvard on the course of another win.
“They were pressing us pretty hard, and they were mostly in our end,” Hoff said after the 2-1 win against Princeton on Saturday. “Then the goal was just kind of a big blow to them, and they kind of went flat until the second half.”
Hoff was able to break though a solid Princeton defense thanks to freshman defender Kwaku Nyamekye, who hit Hoff with a well-placed lob that eliminated the Princeton defense. Hoff chipped the ball into the goal, giving the Crimson a 1-0 lead at the half.
“We definitely did our homework and used it to our advantage with their goalkeeper being unsure about catching the ball in the air,” Hoff said. “Our strategy was just to put the pressure on him, to get the balls and cross them and make him make a decision to come out.”
When teams and players come into a game this prepared, there is no question about who will emerge victorious. And with an offensive leader like Hoff, Harvard looks to be in position to continue its six-game winning streak.