- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 21, 2004

A tentative start proved to be no problem for the American University men’s soccer team yesterday.

Sal Caccavale had two assists as AU routed Long Island 3-0 at Reeves Field in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Eagles (15-5-2) advanced to meet fourth-seeded Virginia (17-4) in the second round Tuesday night at Charlottesville’s Klockner Stadium.

Thomas Myers made five saves for AU, which reached the second round for the third time in four years.

It didn’t look like it would be a blowout early on. The Blackbirds (9-7-4) got off the first two shots before AU’s offense finally asserted itself.

“We were very tentative in the first 15 minutes,” AU coach Todd West said. “We said before the game, ‘Let’s get through the first 10 minutes, let’s keep things tight.’ I joked with [assistant coach] Gary [Kingsley] that it almost looked like we told the guys not to play for 10 minutes. But NCAA games, everyone’s going to be a little nervous. I figured that once we got our legs under us, we’d be able to create some chances.”

The Eagles created plenty. After shaking off the slow start, AU took the lead in the 24th minute. Caccavale sent a cross from the right side to senior Shawn Kuykendall, who had a clear shot from the top of the box. However, he scuffed a shot that seemed to take Blackbirds goalkeeper Ryszard Gorski by surprise. Gorski managed to get his hands on the shot, but the ball still trickled into the right side of the net.

“I thought I had him going the opposite way and I was going to strike it, but I lost some of my footing as I struck it and hit it poorly,” Kuykendall said. “Fortunately, it went in. I didn’t think it was going in, that’s for sure.”

As it turned out, Gorski also had trouble with his footing on the play.

“The ball went so slow, the ball actually handcuffed [Gorski],” Long Island coach T.J. Kostecky said. “Until that point, we had played well. … The game changed at that point.”

AU continued to dominate possession the rest of the half before adding to its lead in the 40th minute. This time Gorski deflected Kuykendall’s shot to the right side, where senior Sean Albright headed it into the open net.

Though there was little doubt of the outcome after the second goal, AU’s efficient midfield continued to control play in the second half and push for an insurance goal. It finally came in the 85th minute when David Marut deposited Caccavale’s feed to the right side from 12 yards out.

“If you put the third goal in, no team’s going to come back from a 3-0 deficit with 20 minutes left,” Caccavale said. “We were definitely pushing for that third goal. In the middle here, we run the show. When we’re on, the team fires on all cylinders.”

The Eagles, who won the Patriot League, continued their rebound from last year’s 7-9-1 campaign, but a defeat of Virginia would enhance the comeback even more.

“Our attitude this whole year is to prove last year was a fluke,” West said. “The more games we win, the more we prove last year was a fluke.”

Despite being a bit more aggressive in the second half, the Blackbirds still couldn’t muster many scoring opportunities. The closest Long Island came to cutting the deficit was in the 78th minute, when forward Ricardo Ordain’s shot was two feet wide left of the goal.

Long Island, making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1986, played without Josh Couvillion, its top defender, who had to sit out because of an accumulation of yellow cards.

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