American sends UM to another early exit Terps suffer fourth straight 2nd-round elimination, 1-0

December 01, 1997|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

WASHINGTON -- A few moments after the game, Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski walked over and simply embraced senior Leo Cullen, searching for some quiet consolation in the rain following the Terrapins' fourth straight disappointing season-ending finish.

This time, American's Scott Weber provided the painful memory, converting a wide-open shot with 7: 48 left in the game to give the Eagles a 1-0 victory over Maryland before 2,214 at Reeves Field in an NCAA second-round game yesterday.

The Terps (16-6-1), who last advanced past the Sweet 16 in 1969, have lost in the second round for four consecutive years. The Eagles (17-3-4) will travel to Virginia next Sunday in a quarterfinal game.

"I thought we did everything to win the game except put the ball in the back of the net," Cirovski said. "It's a cruel game. We're dealing with the cruelty a few times over right now."

Maryland certainly had its opportunities early, getting five shots within 12 yards of the goal in the first half. It didn't get any better in the second half as the Terps' season-long problems of finishing shots surfaced again.

With 20 minutes left in a scoreless game, Maryland's Judah Cooks dribbled deep into the Eagles' defense, drawing American goalkeeper Jeff Angelucci out a few steps. Nevertheless, Angelucci made the play, stretching out just enough to deflect the shot off his thigh.

Maryland ends the season with only one goal -- scored by reserve Jamie Eichmann last week -- in its final three games. Of the Terps' six losses this year, five were shutouts.

"When we don't score, we can't expect to win," Cirovski said. "We have never been shut out this many times in my career. It's a crushing feeling, especially when we had chances all these years."

American then caught Maryland flat-footed in transition with eight minutes remaining in the game.

The Eagles' Antonio Otero controlled the ball at midfield and threaded it between defenders R. T. Moore and Randy Merkel to teammate Trevor Ellis, who took the ball to an opening in the corner. With a short look out of the corner of his eye, Ellis crossed the ball to Weber for the 8-yard shot that ricocheted off the cross bar and into the goal.

"I think it became a question of who's got who," Maryland goalkeeper Andy Kirk said. "It was a decent goal but it could have been prevented earlier."

The Terps shifted some players to the attack to increase pressure and took three shots in the final three minutes. Maryland's best chance came with two minutes left, but Steve Armas' shot from just inside the box sliced wide right.

"It's frustrating and tough to handle," said Cullen, a Terps defender who is the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and a top finalist for National Player of the Year. "All four years, this is the round we've exited. All four years, we felt we could have gone further. Case in point, this year. But I can't come back to try and do it again."

Pub Date: 12/01/97

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