Eagles finish in close second

AU Men's Soccer finished a respectable but disappointing second place in the D.C. College Cup, routing George Washington 3-0 on Friday before drawing host Georgetown 1-1 on Sunday.

AU and Georgetown finished the tournament with identical records. But the first tiebreaker was goal differential, and Georgetown's +4 mark, via a 4-0 win over Howard, put them ahead of AU's +3, giving them the trophy.

After AU junior midfielder Peter Philipakos's 24th-minute goal, it appeared that AU was well en route to the win necessary to secure their third-straight city championship.

But Georgetown prevented the lead from doubling before halftime. Then in the 53rd minute, Georgetown forward Ricky Schramm tied the game.

The scoring stopped after Schramm's goal, but the action didn't. Georgetown defender Dan Pydo was ejected for a studs-to-face collision with AU junior goalkeeper Thomas Myers with three minutes left in regulation.

Despite the man advantage, and several opportunities, AU couldn't break the deadlock. After 90 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime, Georgetown survived to claim the title of city champions.

"Of course it's frustrating," AU captain and junior midfielder Shawn Kuykendall said afterwards. "We didn't get enough possession, and when you give up that [tying] goal and they can pack it in and defend, it's hard."

"Sure we can learn from this," Kuykendall continued. "But we're looking to win games, to get wins any way we can. You need them; you have to have them."

The Eagles dominated last year's meeting at Reeves Field, winning 4-0. But it was clear early that the 2003 Georgetown side was far better than the 2002 version.

"We came out flat, or cocky may be a better word for it," AU Head Coach Todd West said. "We tried to tell our team that [Georgetown] was a year older than when we last played them, and much more experienced, but it doesn't always sink in."

After a tenuous first 10 minutes, AU slowly gained control of the match. First, Philipakos found junior forward Andrew Herman on the left side of the penalty area, but his ninth-minute effort deflected away for a corner-kick. A minute later, junior defender Nick Zaron's 35-yard blast was saved by sprawling Hoya 'keeper Andrew Keszler.

AU led 10 minutes later. Herman again won a corner-kick after latching onto a through ball from freshman forward Sal Caccavale. Senior defender Brett Niebling headed Kuykendall's ensuing corner on goal, but Hoya defender Brett Mortimer cleared it off the goal line. Another Hoya defender then blocked AU junior defender Sean Albright's rebound blast. Philipakos pounced on the loose ball, slotting it into an empty net.

Caccavale, Kuykendall and junior midfielder David Marut created several late first half chances, finishing none. Georgetown was more efficient with its next chance.

Georgetown defender Dan Gargan started the quick move, seizing a loose ball after AU junior defender Charlie Koniver dispossessed a Hoya attacker, and found Pydo inside the penalty area. Pydo dodged Schramm who dashed in alone on goal and chipped over a charging Myers into the goal, eight minutes into the second half.

Both teams threatened late in regulation. But in the 87th minute, Georgetown was forced to change its plans when Pydo again gained possession near goal. Pydo lost control of the ball, bringing Myers sliding out to collect it. Pydo then slid into Myers, a challenge deemed dangerous enough to warrant a red card.

"I thought it was clear," said West of the red card. "Thomas [Myers] has the ball and two seconds later [Pydo] comes in studs up into his face."

Despite AU dominating overtime, the match ended level, but West tried to remain positive.

"We had Pete [Philipakos] and Sal [Caccavale] two on none, and we don't get a shot, and we had other looks we should have put away," West said. "But a lot of times, a team will sell the farm trying to win a game, and end up losing it. In what's not our strongest performance, we still got a draw."

While Sunday's Georgetown match proved frustrating, AU's 3-0 win over George Washington Friday was an ideal start to the 2003 season.

Junior Andrew Herman, last year's leading scorer, scored the match's first two goals, while Kuykendall, last year's leading assister, nabbed an assist on the third. In between, freshman midfielder Nathan Baker scored his first collegiate goal, while Caccavale recorded his first collegiate assist.

"I'm thrilled with the contribution of our freshmen today," West said. "Sal [Caccavale]'s entrance turned this game, and for Nate [Baker] to get his first goal is great. That's not even his role."

"It's a great start for Herman," West continued. "If teams are going to man-mark him for 90 minutes, it is going to be tough, because he will find some space."

The Colonials couldn't contain Herman, who was dangerous from the opening whistle. But it took help from an unlikely source, defender Koniver, to get Herman on the score sheet in the 14th minute.

Herman carried possession into the penalty area to start the move. But with no angle to goal, he played the ball right to Koniver, who evaded GW challenges while Herman overlapped him to the right. Koniver played the back to Herman who drove a low finish past 'keeper Eric Lund.

Herman doubled his total 13 minutes later. Caccavale assisted this time, playing a cross to the streaking forward after making his own penetrating run. Herman finished clinically from a tough left sided angle into the upper left corner.

"Sal [Caccavale] made a great run, I think he drew three people with him," Herman said, "and still found me. When we can both run at people, when we are on the same page, we can make things happen."

AU's final goal, in the 39th minute, was a team effort. Herman began the move playing the ball backwards from left midfield to Brett Niebling, who then one-touched down the left wing to a streaking Kuykendall. Kuykendall warded off a pursuing Colonial, then played a pinpoint low cross to Baker, who finished from 12 yards.

"The third goal was big-time," West said. "That broke [GW's] back."

The second half was non-descript, due partly to oppressive heat, and partly to a lack of AU urgency.

"I think both teams hit a wall in the second half," West said, "because of the heat and because it's the first match of the year. You can train and train and train and still you aren't at match fitness until you play."

"There's nothing like playing in 100 degree heat," said Herman. "We've been training for this for a while. We've been waiting eight months."

AU plays in the Maryland/Adidas Classic this weekend, facing Virginia on Friday at 5 p.m., and No. 2 Maryland on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

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