Mark DeBlois' lunging header midway through the season half today gave American University a 1-0 South Atlantic Region NCAA soccer victory over Virginia, sending the Eagles into the tournament's quarterfinal round Dec. 2.
American, which ran its unbeaten streak to 15 games in improving its record to 13-24, will play the winner of Sunday's South Carolina-Clemson game on the Southern Region winner's home field. The victor will advance to the NCAA semifinals in Tampa, Fla.
DeBlois, a freshman from McLean, Va., beat Virginia goalie Bill Wallace, taking a free kick from 15 yards out from midfielder Bill Hylton.
The goal was DeBlois' 12th of the year, his third game-winner and his third off a head shot.
"It was a set play," said DeBlois. "We had been kicking at the near post earlier, so we went for the far post. They didn't expect it. Nobody picked me up. I'm supposed to try to glance the ball toward the goal."
"We had eye-to-eye contact," noted Hylton, who started all of AU's games as a freshman but has been a substitute this fall. "I signaled for him to go and give it (the ball) a quick kick. We caught them off guard."
Hylton of Laurel, Md., earned the assist after AU Coach Pete Mehlert had put him in for Luis Calderon at the 15-minute mark of the second half.
Calderon, one of AU's top playmakers, was playing while ill and had been asking for a rest.
"I couldn't get him out," said Mehlert. "We never had a goal kick. Finally, I got him out and told Bill (Hylton) to play it simple.
"I knew I could count on him. He's skillful and knows what to do with the ball. It was a free kick, he chipped it to the post, Mark went for it. It was a brilliant goal. The keeper had no chance to stop it."
DeBlois' goal came only moments after AU had missed its only other good chance. DeBlois crossed to Kevin Barth in front of the Cavalier goal, but Dave Dickey cleared the ball, only to set up Hylton's free kick.
Virginia, which outshot AU, 8-6, in the first half, nearly tied the game with six minutes to play. Peter MacKeith, from Arlington, Va., was wide left with a short kick in a scramble in front of the AU goal.
AU goalie Bill Ruvo had little trouble handling Virginia's 13 shots on goal, collecting his fifth straight shut-out and seventh in 13 games. He has not allowed a goal since AU tied Howard, 1-1.
"We had some close-in situations and didn't capitalize," said Virginia Coach Bruce Arena, whose team finished at 12-4-1. "We didn't play very well, or they're very good."