American University, ranked ninth among college soccer teams in preseason polls, thrashed Maryland yesterday, 4-0, at Maryland. The victory avenged the Eagles' last defeat in regular season play, which came at the hands of the Terps.
The Eagles scored all four goals in the first 40 minutes, including two on beautifully timed plays in dead-ball situations. AU's defense was similarly sharp, allowing just one shot by the Terps (0-2) in the first half. The victory in its season opener was American's 15th straight regular-season game without a loss since it was defeated, 2-1, by Maryland early last year. AU finished 14-3-4 and went to the NCAA quarterfinals in 1979.
"Our practices haven't been very good the past two weeks," said AU Coach Pete Mehlert, who was admittedly relieved by his team's performance.
"I really didn't know what to expect. But our organization on defense, particularly in the first half, was very good.
"It helped that we had the wind in the first half. It was blowing pretty good out there and it was a real advantage. We also capitalized on dead-ball situations, on a corner kick and a free kick. Two of the early goals were on dead-ball situations, and it's tough for a team to come back from a two-goal deficit."
American scored the first goal at 14:22, when a corner kick from the left side by sophomore forward Mark DeBlois was headed into the net by freshman Keith Oliver. The two were teammates at McLean High School. One minute later, the Eagles took a 2-0 lead on a play off a free kick worked up by freshman Richard Burke to forward Kevin Barth.
After the Eagles were awarded a free kick only yards past the midfield stripe, Burke sent a low line drive near the left post Barth went for the ball just before it hit the ground and headed a hard shot past Maryland goalkeeper Sid Kaufman. Barth added a second goal in the 27th minute on a feed from Tom Tague, and the Eagles closed out hte scoring in the 40th minute when freshman Jim Bentson weaved his way past four defenders and drove in a slow shot just inside the left post.
"They're ninth in the country, and they played like it today," said Maryland Coach Jim Dietsch. "We're unranked, and we played like it too. I really don't know what's wrong with the team right now."