Shawn Kuykendall's routine shot midway through the first half had no business going into the net, but did. His attempt 16 minutes later should have gone in, but didn't.
In the end, however, both sequences resulted in goals yesterday as American advanced to the second round of the NCAA men's soccer tournament with a 3-0 victory over Long Island at rainy Reeves Field.
The Eagles, Patriot League champions who have won six straight and are 11-1-1 in their last 13 games, will play fourth-seeded Virginia (17-4) on Tuesday night in Charlottesville.
Kuykendall, a Madison High graduate whose father and two brothers played for AU, got things started in the 24th minute with a mildly threatening 18-yard shot that skipped off lunging goalkeeper Ryszard Gorski's hands and slipped into the right corner. Then, five minutes before halftime, Gorski made a superb save on Kuykendall's rising shot, but the rebound fell to the Eagles' Sean Albright for a simple header and a 2-0 lead.
"It went in; I'll take it," Kuykendall, a senior midfielder, said of the first goal. "I did not hit it as well as I thought I should. In fact, on the second goal, I thought that should've went in; he made a great save on that. You make one, you don't get the other."
The Eagles (15-5-2) sealed it in the 85th minute on a goal by David Marut, who calmly put away Sal Caccavale's clever diagonal pass.
It capped a game that didn't start very well for American, which is making its third NCAA tournament appearance in the last four years.
"We looked very tentative in the first 15 minutes," Eagles Coach Todd West said. "We said before the game, 'Let's get through the first 10 and keep things tight.' I joked with [assistant Gary Kingsley] that it almost looked like we told the guys not to play the first 10 minutes. NCAA games, everyone is going to be a little nervous, so I figured once we got our legs under us, we'd be able to move the ball and create some chances."
Kuykendall's goal turned the match, and from there, he and the explosive Caccavale (two assists) dominated the middle of the field to put the Blackbirds (9-7-4) on the defensive throughout the dreary afternoon. Eagles goalie Thomas Myers made five routine saves and wasn't seriously tested until the final 15 minutes.
"A soft goal kind of changed the game," Long Island Coach T.J. Kostecky said. "It's unfortunate because Ryszard is a top goalkeeper. He lost his footing . . . [and] the ball actually went so slow, it just handcuffed him. Go figure, huh?"
Gorski did all he could in the 40th minute, leaping to stop Kuykendall's shot from the left side, but Albright, brother of Los Angeles Galaxy defender Chris Albright, deposited the rebound. It was only the third time since the first week of the season that Long Island had yielded two goals in a game, although the absence of suspended star defender Josh Couvillon probably contributed to that.
After the sluggish start, "the game finally opened up a bit," Kuykendall said, "and we were able to settle it down and start to play."
ACC champion Virginia, which received a first-round bye, has beaten American five straight times and leads the series 10-3-1.
* WASHINGTON WOMEN 1, MARYLAND 0: In Seattle, the Terrapins (9-7-4) were ousted by the 15th-seeded Huskies (17-4-1) in the third round of the NCAA tournament.