Bob Frailey's recollection of American University athletics spans five decades, but he says he never has seen anything like the Eagles' 1-0 NCAA semifinal victory over Hartwick on Saturday at Reeves Field.
"Nothing compares," said Frailey, American's athletic director, who graduated from the university in 1949 and coached swimming and golf there until he assumed his current position in 1964.
The 1-0 win over the Warriors lifted American (19-2-2) into the NCAA final Saturday (10 p.m. EST) in the Seattle Kingdome. The Eagles will play UCLA (19-1-4), which beat Evansville, 3-1, yesterday in Evansville, Ind.
Although the Eagles did not go head to head with the Bruins this year, they did get a good look at them when both played in the Sunblazer Invitational Classic in Florida, which the Eagles won early in the season.
American beat Florida International, 2-1, in overtime, and the University of Tampa by the same score. Michael Brady, who assisted on Fernando Iturbe's goal Saturday, scored three of the four American goals, including the game-winner in both. UCLA beat Tampa, 4-2, on three goals by Dale Ervine, but tied Florida International, 1-1.
After the classic, UCLA Coach Sigi Schmid told a national soccer magazine that he was impressed by American's David Nakhid. "He played both ends of the field. He was creative. He had good vision. And he worked at it."
Schmid would have been impressed by Nakhid on Saturday. Nakhid orchestrated play in the midfield and made it difficult for Hartwick's offense.
"David Nakhid dominated the midfield," said American Coach Pete Mehlert, who was in Pittsburgh yesterday to see a high school all-star soccer game. "The entire team played cohesively. They supported each other well. They covered up defensively. And we won the key matchups: Fernando (Iturbe) over Matt Kern and Serge (Torreilles) over (Dave) Magistrale."
The victory put American's campus into an uproar. Confetti and rolls of toilet paper fell like ticker tape from dormitory windows. And T-shirts proclaiming "The Battle in Seattle" were being printed.
As for campus unity and school spirit, Frailey said: "It's amazing what something like this will do."