CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- From top to bottom in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the gap in men's soccer is growing.
That was the conclusion after watching Virginia (4-0) begin the ACC season with a 5-1 pounding of Maryland (0-3) yesterday. With a little more than 20 minutes gone, the Cavaliers had a 3-0 bulge, and the difference would have been greater if not for Terps senior goalie Carmine Isaaco, who had eight saves.
Virginia, the defending NCAA champion and the undisputed No. 1 team in the country, is stocked with an abundance of Parade high school All-Americas and the money to drop $2.2 million on its new Klockner Stadium, a showcase where 1,702 viewed yesterday's one-sided match. It stretched the Cavaliers' unbeaten streak to 21 games, tying a school record.
"Our goals aren't win streaks," said Bruce Arena, whose 15-year record as the Virginia coach is 213-49-28. "We want to win championships."
Virginia has outscored four opponents 15-1, its closest encounter being Wednesday's 2-0 victory over UMBC that was scoreless at the half.
Yesterday's four-goal edge was Virginia's biggest over Maryland since an 8-1 rout in 1984, the year before coach Alden Shattuck came to College Park.
The Terps started five freshmen yesterday, and they said their confidence was hurt by a penalty kick awarded the Cavaliers in the 10th minute. Erik Imler, a senior from Bowie who played on the U.S. Olympic team along with teammates Claudio Reyna and Mike Huwiler, went down just inside the penalty area after getting a step on Gregg McLaughlin. Ben Crawley converted the penalty kick, opening the floodgates with the first of his three goals.
"They're a better team than us," Isaaco said. "I'm not one to blame the refs, but that was a horrible call. When we beat them here two years ago, we held them off, held them off, then won, 1-0. We didn't need that at the start."
George Petrou scored Maryland's goal with 61:07 elapsed, taking advantage of a 1-on-1 following a slip by Virginia back Clint Peay.