ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Leading the Ivy League

With two goals, reigning Player of the Year Charles Altchek clinches title

For what would be his last regular season game at Ohiri Field, captain and forward Charles Altchek left quite an indelible mark on Senior Day for the home fans. Notching two goals in a thrilling victory over Columbia for the Ivy league championship, Altchek delivered the goods to provide a scintillating regular season finish to an already stellar ’06 campaign.

Altchek, last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year, finished the regular season with 12 goals and four assists. Along with leading the Ivy league in goals, he also produced four game-winning goals, matching the previous career high he set last year.

“Charles has been huge for this program since the minute he signed up at Harvard,” Crimson coach John Kerr said. “He’s consistent; he’s scored big time goals. He’s a producer and always steps up in the biggest games.”

Fueled by his teammates’ efforts on the wings, Altchek has been a determined leader on the pitch throughout the season, and has led an offense that ranks first in the nation with 2.59 goals per game. Under his captaincy, this Crimson squad has come together as a collective unit to dazzle its opponents with a varied attack that has left its opponents guessing throughout the season. While Altchek leads the way with his team-high 12 goals, Harvard boasts six players who are in double figures in scoring.

“Most of my goals were certainly not individual efforts by any means,” Altchek said. “Throughout the season I was fed by guys like [sophomore midfielder Michael] Fucito and [sophomore midfielder John] Stamatis. That’s been the story of our season, guys working hard all over the field and supporting each other.”

This type of team chemistry was on display against Columbia, as Altchek finished the plays initiated by the Crimson’s swift midfielders. In the 75th minute, with Harvard holding a slim 1-0 lead, Fucito placed a well-timed cross into the box after dominating play in the wing and gave Altchek a wide-open opportunity to take the 2-0 lead.

Altchek would again connect with one of his midfielders four minutes later, this time by way of Stamatis’ cross to answer Columbia’s goal in the 76th minute and put the game out of reach.

After suffering through some difficult years, Altchek’s four years of work have finally culminated into a very successful senior campaign. Unlike last season, where Altchek earned individual honors on an ultimately unsuccessful team, this season the combination of individual brilliance and spectacular team performance may allow this Crimson squad to go farther than any team before it.

“I’ve been really proud to represent this school and play in front of the Harvard fans for these past couple of years,” Altchek said. “It was a little bittersweet for me knowing this would be my last Ivy game, but I couldn’t have scripted it better.”