UCLA won a victory for the ages tonight that took almost a lifetime to complete.
The Bruins beat American, 1-0, on a goal by defender Andy Burke 6:05 into the eighth overtime period to win the NCAA soccer championship before 5,986 in the Kingdome.
It is the Bruins' first NCAA soccer championship. At 166:05, the game established a record for the longest NCAA final, breaking the mark set in 1982 when Indiana defeated Duke, 2-1, in the 159th minute.
Burke broke in alone on the left side and angled his game-winning shot from 10 yards out, beating AU goalie Stephen Pfeil to the near post.
Moments before the goal, Michael Brady limped to the sidelines and fell down with a leg cramp, leaving AU two men short when the goal was scored. Serge Torreilles had received a red card for butting UCLA's Dale Ervine at 129:14.
UCLA finished 20-1-4. American concluded its season 19-3-2.
In the first half, American had the better of the play. Unofficially, the Eagles had 10 shots on goalie Dave Vanole; the Bruins took only two shots on Pfeil.
The Eagles worked the ball through the midfield and to their wings with short passes. The offensive flurries the Bruins had resulted from long passes.
American had chances from the start. After 15 seconds, UCLA defender Paul Krumpe sloppily played the ball back to his keeper. Brady slipped in and took a shot from about 15 yards, but Vanole deflected it high.
The best chance came when Brady hit the post with 11:18 remaining. AU sweeperback Keith Trehy, who usually anchors the backline, was able to dribble through the midfield and penetrate into the left corner. Moving along the backline, he beat Doug Swanson and sent a short, low cross to the near post. Vanole got his hands on it but failed to control it. Brady was there and got a chip shot off, which hit the left post.
UCLA's best scoring opportunity of the first half came with 28:16 left. Tom Silvas controlled the ball and took an unguarded shot from 30 yards out. Pfeil dove to make the save, but he was not truly tested.
Most of the action took place in UCLA's defensive half. American's David Nakhid, who was marked by Hubert Rotteveel, was able to make runs through the midfield and complete passes to Fernando Iturbe and Barry Henderson.
With 23:05 left, Henderson sent a centering cross to Brady. The striker took a run and headed the ball, but the shot was misdirected. Brady nevertheless turned and applauded the pass.
Brady remained on the carpet after one of his scoring chances but was unhurt. Trehy had sent a cross toward the endline and Brady tried a scissors kick that went goalward, but he landed on his back and it appeared his head hit the ground.
UCLA, which was bigger, also was more physical. The Bruins fouled American 15 times to AU's 10 fouls. Krumpe received a yellow card for tripping Henderson with nine seconds left in the half.
American did not have as many solid scoring opportunities in the first 25 minutes of the second half as it did earlier. But the Eagles did maintain a strategic advantage by continuing to dominate the midfield. Conversely, UCLA seemed to concede the middle third of the field, playing long balls from the back line to the forward line.
The Bruins had a chance with 24:11 remaining that must have worried Pfeil, if not the crowd.
Peter Pelle controlled the ball and moved around Mike Russell, who had substituted for Adrian Gaitan. Pelle, working his way to the end line, popped the ball in the air, but it hit the crossbar.
After the 90-minute regulation, the teams played two 10-minute, non-sudden-death overtimes.
In preparation for overtime, Mehlert made wholesale substitutions with 10:32 remaining. To rest Iturbe, Nakhid and John Diffley, he substituted Henry Wagner, Steve Marland and Billy Corbett. Adopting a defensive posture, he moved Brady into the midfield.
At the beginning of the first overtime period he reinserted his starters. After the first two overtime periods, the teams began the series of sudden-death 10-minute overtime periods.
UCLA had an apparent game-winning goal disallowed by an offside call with 35 seconds remaining in the first sudden death period. Chris Roosen, who was positioned near the top of the 18-yard box, headed the ball to Tom Silvas, who put it past American goalie Stephen Pfeil. But Silvas was ruled offside.
UCLA was ranked No. 2 in the final poll of the season. The Bruins reached the final by beating Cal-Berkeley, 3-1; UNLV, 1-0 in overtime; Southern Methodist, 2-0, and top-ranked Evansville, 3-1.
American was ranked fifth in the final poll. After drawing a bye in the first round, the Eagles beat George Mason, 3-1; South Carolina, 2-0, and Hartwick, 1-0, to arrive in Seattle