Freshman Jon Hall scored late in the first half yesterday to lead American University to a 1-0 victory over Howard in a physical soccer game at American.

Hall, who is from Watford, England, got his third goal of the season at the 40:34 mark to bring the Eagles back to the .500 mark (3-3-1) for the season. Howard slipped to 2-3.

AU, which has no seniors, was coming off one-goal losses to nationally ranked UCLA and North Carolina. Howard's losses all have been by 1-0.

"I feel we have the most explosive front line around," said Howard Coach Keith Tucker, who starts only one senior. "We had an equal amount of opportunities, but we couldn't put it in the back of the net."

The Eagles never allowed the Bison a clear shot on net. Howard had many chances, but AU goalkeeper Tim Helmig was not seriously challenged.

"If you try to run with them {Howard}, they can beat anyone in the country," said AU Coach Pete Mehlert, who crowded his players on defense to counter Howard's quickness.

The Bison's best chance came midway in the second half when Helmig had to leap and tip a deflected indirect kick by Goyan Clarke.

Hall scored the goal after having an earlier apparent score disallowed by an offside call. Junior John Diffley crossed to Hall, who headed the ball into the left corner of the net. However, the linesman ruled him offside.

Seventeen minutes later, Hall got one that counted when Diffley (three assists this season) broke free on the right wing and crossed the ball toward the goal area. Bison goalkeeper Barrington Watson couldn't hold it and Hall found an open net from 12 yards.

"John's job was to get the ball into the box and I was lucky enough to be there," Hall said.

After little offensive pressure in the first half, the Bison picked up the intensity and had more scoring opportunities. However, they couldn't score.

"I had a feeling if we kept up the pressure we would eventually score, but it didn't happen," said Tucker, who played for Howard in the mid-1970s. "But this is a young team and those goals will come."

The Bison were called for 29 fouls to AU's 12.