In the last exhibition game before the start of the regular season, the AU Eagles defeated the Richmond Spiders 2-0 Saturday at Reeves Field.
While the victory won’t count, Head Coach Todd West found value in the game, as it displayed a possible improvement in the Eagles defensive game.
“I think it’s a good way to end preseason with a clean sheet, so we’re happy with our team defending — that always gives you a chance,” West said. “We’re still trying to find a group of guys that will step our defensive line out and defend closer to the other team’s goal, but it’s a work in progress so today was a step in the right direction.”
Both teams looked evenly matched in the first half, despite AU sophomore Ryan Morales receiving a yellow card for a slide tackle in the 13th minute, as fouls, total shots and saves were nearly identical. After sophomore Alassane Kane’s shot inside the eight-yard box was denied by the Richmond goalkeeper Alex Williams, AU received two straight corners inside a minute left in the first half. The team couldn’t capitalize and the score sheet remained clean, 0-0, at the end of 45 minutes.
Junior Mike Marino helped spark the attack for AU in the 48th minute, as he was on the receiving end of freshman Colin Seigfreid’s left footed cross. Making a run from the top of the 18-yard box, Marino headed in American’s first goal to put the Eagles on top 1-0.
“It was right in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Seigfreid got a ball on the left side and I got into the box,” Marino said. “He put it right between the goalie and the center-back, right for me to just dive in there and I got a head on it.”
Eleven minutes later, Marino helped capitalize another AU counterattack. He redirected a chest trap on a quick throw-in to senior Jamie Davin. He dribbled through two Richmond defenders and fired a 19-yard strike that hit off the left post and went in to give American its second goal of the half and a 2-0 lead.
Despite two yellow cards in the 76th and 77th minute, the Eagles possessed the ball well and played a clean half to seal the win. The team’s urgency was better in the second half, according to West. Marino hopes to take this win into the regular season, where they will face Howard Sept. 1 and try to defend their D.C. Cup title as they play George Mason Sept. 4.
“What we got to do is just take this little game, this game right here two-nothing win, and take it into the D.C. Cup on Wednesday and Saturday,” Marino said. “It’s big to get this exhibition game and the D.C. Cup. It’s huge. We won it last year so are really trying to get it back.”