Harvard Suffers Ivy Loss

In first Ivy matchup, Crimson can’t withstand

The Harvard men’s soccer team had high hopes for its Ivy season opener, but ended up falling just short of the target.

The Crimson (5-3-0, 0-1-0 Ivy) played Penn (5-2-0, 1-0-0 Ivy) this Saturday on the Quakers’ home turf, Rhodes field, only to have a rough time of it and lose to Penn by a final score of 3-1.

“In the Ivy League everyone is so evenly matched and a little bit of luck here and there and everyone can be equally good,” said senior midfielder Tom Stapleton. “We had a little bit of bad luck.”

Most of the game’s action took place in the final eight minutes of play, when three of the game’s four goals were scored.

The Quakers’ winning goal was the first of three shots that hit the back of a net. At 82:52, Penn was able to get past the Harvard defenders to place the ball behind junior goalie Adam Hahn and put the Quakers up 2-0 in the game, a lead that the Crimson wouldn’t be able to close.

“I personally thought I could have done better on a few chances,” said senior forward and captain Charles Altchek. “I think [Akpan] thought he should have scored on a couple of other chances too.”

Penn wasn’t done yet, even though it had cinched the game, and scored one last time, at 85:43, for good measure. The Harvard backfield pushed forward in a desperate attempt to increase the offensive pressure, leaving the backfield open for an aggressive Penn offense to bring the score up to 3-1.

“We didn’t put chances away in the first half,” Altchek said. “We let them get into the game and score the first goal and we just couldn’t come back after that.”

The Crimson did not have the same luck in capitalizing on its opportunities, even though it outshot the Quakers 10-6, with seven of those ten shots on net. Penn’s goalie, senior Daniel Cepero, did have an exceptional game, finishing the day with six saves.

“[The goalie] played okay,” Altchek said. “It more came down to that we just didn’t take our opportunities.”

Harvard’s one goal also came during the final eight minutes of play, in between the Quakers’ second and third scoring shots. Freshman forward Andre Akpan, who has been stellar in his rookie year, was able to catch a pass from Altchek and score at 85:00 in the game. Akpan caused the Penn goalie to stretch himself in a dive for the ball, which slipped past and hit the left back corner of the net. It was Akpan’s fourth goal of the season.

Harvard will not have a long wait before getting its next Ivy League chance against longtime rival Yale on Saturday, after playing an away game against Rhode Island tomorrow.

“We still feel that we have the talent in the squad to be very successful,” Stapleton said. “We had a tough loss, but that is going to happen in soccer a lot of the time.”

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

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