The American University soccer team's success is the best thing to hit campus since spring break. Still, following the Eagles to their next game might be as expensive as a week in Fort Lauderdale.
American (19-2-2) plays for the national championship in the Seattle Kingdome on Saturday night (10 p.m. EST) against UCLA (19-1-4).
For students, alumni and supporters inclined to make the trip, American's department of athletic relations is trying to arrange the least costly flights, but no charter is planned. For those who can't travel to Seattle, the game will be broadcast live on the campus radio station, WVAU-610, and will be televised Sunday on tape delay on the ESPN cable network at 4 p.m.
Dr. Richard Berendzen, the president of the university, is aware of the benefits of Saturday's 1-0 semifinal victory over Hartwick.
"Certainly, alumni come alive whenever students excel in any area," said Berendzen, who will attend the title game. "In sports, as opposed to academic achievement, it's more recognizable because you're able to quantify it."
The athletic relations department is arranging seats costing $318 on round-trip flights. They will leave Washington on Saturday morning, and fans have the option of returning Saturday night or Sunday morning. Approximately 10 people have signed up for the trip, according to Craig Tartasky, American's director of athletic relations.
To help fill the seats, the athletic department sponsored a phone-a-thon last night to call athletic alumni on the East Coast and parents of soccer players. To help attract additional supporters to the Kingdome, the athletic department mailed 2,800 post cards to alumni in California, Oregon and Washington, announcing: "We're coming to the Kingdome."
A pep rally will be held Wednesday night during halftime of the American-George Washington basketball game at Fort Myer. For a school that never has appeared in an NCAA team championship game, American seems to have mobilized quickly.
"It's just a shame all of that is so far away," said American Athletic Director Bob Frailey. "Our alumni are heavily concentrated up the corridor from Washington to Boston."
As for taking on UCLA, a massive institution with resources and enrollment far greater than American's, Berendzen is optimistic. "It's David and Goliath, and you know who won that game."