After starting out strong with a goal in the first three minutes of play, nothing could stop the Harvard men’s soccer team from a win in yesterday’s game against Maine.
The Crimson (2-1-1) faced off against the Black Bears (2-5-0) yesterday in their third home game of the season—winning it easily 2-0. Maine has had a tough season so far with five losses and have allowed 14 goals in seven games so far.
“We came in with the expectation that this was a game we needed to win and we should win,” said senior goalie and captain Ryan Johnson. “It was definitely a game that we didn’t feel would be easy but we felt that we were a more talented team and should win.”
Once again senior forward Charles Altchek led his team to victory scoring the winning goal in the opening minutes of the game. With 42:31 still left to play in the first half—freshman defender Peter Glenmullen sent a ball flying from near the Harvard goal to Altchek who was down on the other half of the field. Altchek was able to not only receive the pass but shoot past the Black Bear’s three defenders and slip the ball right past the goalie and into the net.
Altchek with his goal yesterday is currently leading the Ivy League in points—with 6—and in points per game with a two goals per game average.
On the other hand, Altchek’s effort came at the expense of an injury during yesterday’s game. Near the end of the first half, Altchek and two Maine players all went up for a header at the same time and Altchek got slammed between them. After coming down he had sustained a gash above his left eye that will probably require stitches. He sat out the rest of the half as he was looked after, but returned to the game in the second half wearing a new number 29 jersey after getting blood on own number 10.
Even though the Crimson started out the game with a lot of energy—everyone seemed to slow down after Altchek’s goal. The team began passing a lot and moving the ball back to the defense instead of pushing it forward to the opposing goal.
“As you score a goal the next 10 min are the most important part of the game and that’s something we definitely need to be working on,” Johnson said. “That we score and then tend to let up a little bit and let them come into our half a little too much.”
The defense especially seemed to be a little big listless, and Johnson really had to step up to the plate and to put forth an amazing performance for the game. Johnson had an impressive 11 saves for the game, including a couple extraordinary dives.
“He made some fantastic saves and led by example today,” head coach John Kerr said. “He got us out of jail when we needed to get out of jail and I’m very happy with him.”
In the middle of the first half Johnson left the goal to do battle with a Black Bear forward who had snuck past Harvard’s three defenders and was able to take the ball away with a skillful tackle.
Johnson with his incredible performance yesterday has moved up to head up the Ivy League rankings—holding the top spot in both goals against average and save percentage. Johnson is only averaging .64 goals against per game and saves .846 percent of all his shots.
“It’s my job especially as someone who is playing well trying to pick the rest of the team up to that level,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to upset them but you want to let them know what they need to do and that it’s an important part of the game right here.”
But even though they weren’t as lively later in the game—the Crimson still managed to put up a second goal to clinch the win.
Freshman midfielder Walter Diaz brought the ball in after a foul and passed to senior midfielder Nicholas Tornaritis. Nick Tornaritis then was able to sneak the ball through the defenders and to his twin, Anthony Tornaritis, who was able to take it around from the left and hit the right corner of the goal.
“Our players didn’t seem prepared for the challenge [today]” Kerr said. “I was disappointed with the performance today but happy with the result.”
Even though they didn’t play to their greatest ability in yesterday’s game this Harvard team can only get better as it continues to improve on its overall record and chalk up another shutout.
“It’s our first midweek game during school and I hate to make excuses but that actually makes a difference class all day you get a little tired,” Johnson said. “This wasn’t the defense’s best game, but they did what they had to do and we got the shutout which is all that matters.”
—Staff writer Abigail M. Baird can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.