It's only the third week of the college soccer season and many difficult opponents await. But just maybe, after four mediocre years, American University Coach Pete Mehlert has something here.
The Eagles, who start five freshmen and one sophomore, kept their record perfect with a 1-0 victory over eighth-ranked Adelphi on the first day of the Providence Savings/Diadora Invitational at George Mason.
In the second game, the host Patriots increased their unbeaten streak to five games with a 1-1 tie with Florida International. They haven't lost since a 1-0 defeat to South Carolina in their season opener.
Florida International's Don Gaillard and George Mason's Ian Carter scored on first-half penalty kicks. George Varoutsos had a chance to win it for the Patriots, but his 10-yard shot with two minutes left hit the left post.
American (5-0) will play Florida International (2-1-1) today at 2 p.m. and George Mason (3-1-2) will meet Adelphi (4-1) at 4.
Once again, two freshmen keyed the Eagles' victory. Eric Leibin scored his third game-winning goal of the season in the 69th minute and David Urbach recorded his fifth consecutive shutout, providing the Eagles with their best start since 1985, when they advanced to the NCAA championship game.
"I don't think we're going to lose many games, if any at all," said Leibin, a rugged striker who provided the only goals in earlier victories against Maryland-Baltimore County and Towson State.
Senior midfielder Jon Hall created the scoring chance with a lovely crossing pass from the right wing. Leibin deked his defender, positioned himself near the far post and connected on a header to the lower left corner of the net.
"I took my man forward and he thought I was going to go straight to the ball," Leibin said. "I just stepped back and waited. . . . It was quite simple."
Despite his team's excellent start, Mehlert, in his 18th season, is cautious.
"It was an ugly game, but we're going to create chances because we have the necessary speed and height this year," he said. "I don't think we're for real, but we're going to give everyone a good game."
Urbach was not forced to make a difficult save, although Adelphi's Dominic Pascarella missed an open net from 12 yards midway through the second half and a redirected kick late in the match glanced off a Panthers player in the goalmouth.