UDC sophomore midfielder Shaun Pacious is a regular starter for the 22nd-ranked Firebirds (12-4-2) and has tallied game-winning assists in three of the past four men's soccer games. But he would stand out without those contributions: By all accounts, Pacious is the first white player in the history of the program.

The Good Counsel High graduate was unhappy at Randolph-Macon College last year but was planning to go back before training with UDC over the summer. Firebirds Coach Osman Orlando, who had worked with Pacious at soccer camps, invited him to transfer. Pacious felt comfortable with the team, the vast majority of whom are African natives, and decided to give it a try.

"Some of these guys have families, or they're playing for their scholarships or they're working on the side. It's more of a business when you go out there," said Pacious, who has scored twice this season.

"Once we hit the field, we're a group. We're tight. Even though everyone's speaking their own language, soon we're all speaking English together."

Pacious lives with his family in Silver Spring and intends to study business at UDC. He said his fellow students "don't have time" to pay attention to his skin color. He has been able to meet many of them through his teammates.

In his two remaining years at UDC, Pacious said he hopes to break through one more barrier and lead the Firebirds to the NCAA Division II tournament for the first time.

Despite a 43-7-4 record since 2000 and impressive efforts against ranked teams, the independent Firebirds have been unable to secure an at-large bid. UDC closes its season Sunday against New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Biddulph Helps Eagles Soar

Cutrina Biddulph did not play volleyball until her junior year in high school, too late to make an impact on the sort of club teams that attract most college recruiters. So the Southern California native chose American, where her raw talent and versatility have made her an emerging star. A three-time rookie of the week, Biddulph has excelled both offensively and defensively as a middle blocker, standing second in the Patriot League in hitting percentage and sixth in blocks through last weekend's wins at Holy Cross and Army.

Biddulph's emergence bodes well for a team that has only one senior and is undefeated in league competition in the past two years.

American (18-6, 9-0) will host the conference championship Nov. 22-23.

Cicala Sets GMU Wins Mark

Senior forward Katy Robertson's two goals lifted the George Mason women's soccer team (7-10, 5-2 CAA) to a 2-1 overtime victory at James Madison on Oct. 23 and Coach Jac Cicala to a school-record 127th victory. Cicala passed Hank Leung, who directed the program from its inception in 1982 through 1991. . . .

Georgetown's 1-0 overtime win at St. John's on Sunday boosted junior goalkeeper Alexis George's season shutout record to seven. Her sister, Abby, set the old standard in 1995 with five.

First-Rate Soccer on Display

Some of the best men's soccer teams in the region and the nation play locally this weekend. Friday night No. 20 Virginia (10-5, 2-3 ACC) entertains No. 5 Maryland (12-3, 4-1). On Saturday afternoon Georgetown (6-8, 4-4 Big East) hosts No. 2 St. John's (11-1-4, 7-1-1) in a game the Hoyas must win to ensure a berth in the conference tournament.