Ivan Sampson's goal in the 15th minute of overtime yesterday lifted visiting James Madison to a 1-0 victory over American, leaving the Eagles with their fifth defeat in their last seven games after an 8-0 start.
Sampson, a sophomore forward from Trinidad, scored his fourth goal of the season as the Dukes (9-4) improved their Colonial Athletic Association record to 5-1.
The Eagles, who lost their third straight game after being ranked 14th in the national coaches poll last week, slipped to 10-5 overall and 1-2 in the CAA.
Sampson collected teammate Ricky Englefried's flick pass inside the penalty area, settled the ball and pushed it to the left, out of the reach of goalkeeper Scott Pelster. Sampson then rushed over and, with a clear path to the net, pumped an eight-yard shot into the open goal.
"Ricky flicked it forward and I cut behind my defender," Sampson said. "He clashed with the goalkeeper and I just pushed it wide."
The Eagles didn't create many scoring chances, but Coach Pete Mehlert was pleased with the effort.
"It's a shame because we played darn well defensively," Mehlert said. "As much possession as they had, our goalkeeper didn't have to make a difficult save. And then we lose on a silly play, the only good chance they had. It's unfortunate."
After winning 10 of their first 12 games to reach the top 20 for the first time since 1985, when they advanced to the NCAA final, the Eagles played -- and lost -- for the third time since freshman goalie Dave Urbach broke his hand against Princeton two weeks ago.
Urbach, a freshman from Holland, Pa., leads the nation with a 0.31 goals-against average. He is expected to return for the CAA tournament, Nov. 1-4 in Richmond.
Pelster, playing for the first time in two seasons, wasn't seriously tested until the 30-minute overtime period. After Sampson's goal, Englefried, the Dukes' all-time leading scorer, who is from South Lakes High School, had his breakaway attempt blocked by Pelster with 10 minutes left.
"American packed it in and tried to play off the counterattack," Dukes Coach Tom Martin said. "Our problem was we were a bit forceful. The balls weren't there. So we opened it up and became more patient."
The Dukes had the better chances in the first half, as well. Kevin Born from Falls Church had one volley shot blocked by a defender and another sail just over the crossbar. Brian Albrecht from Manassas also had a well-aimed shot knocked away by an American player.
Eagles freshman Eric Leibin had two good chances, but he missed high late in the first half and miskicked a loose ball in the penalty area in the 69th minute.