Their field was soaked and their cleats were waterlogged less than 10 minutes into the game, but even the steady downpour wasn't enough to keep the Virginia men's soccer team from dousing American last night at Klöckner Stadium, 2-0.
"It was a sloppy game for both teams due to the weather," Cav coach George Gelnovatch said. "The balls were really skipping and it was tough to string passes together."
The pitch resembled a mud bowl more than a playing surface.
"We were told to play cautiously because of the rain," first-year standout Ryan Gibbs said. "There were a couple of wet spots out there so we tried to avoid those."
For a long time the two teams seemed to be avoiding the goal as well; halfway into the first period, the game still was at a stalemate.
Virginia finally managed to change that though, when at 30:44 into the game Gibbs broke the scoring standstill off of a feed from Sheldon Barnes. A pass from right midfield found Barnes alone against the keeper. As he dribbled to the goal, Gibbs came sprinting up the left side undefended to knock in the assist.
"Once Sheldon got the ball, it was just the two of us against the goalie," Gibbs said. "He saw me come up from behind and sent the ball over, so I just tapped it in. I was just in the right place at the right time."
Both teams played well defensively, though the Cavaliers were able to connect on passes and control the ball much more efficiently than the Eagles.
"At times we were passing and connecting well," Gibbs said. "But we probably could have done a better job if it hadn't been so muddy out there."
In spite of the weather, injuries were surprisingly scarce. Although most of the players went sliding to the ground at least once during the game, only one player, American forward Brett Colton, had to leave because of an apparent shoulder injury.
The Eagles' defense was solid, but they were unable to convert offensively, taking only three shots on goal compared to Virginia's nine attempts.
Cavalier keeper Kyle Singer had a easy night, forced to make only two saves the entire game, both in the second half.
The second half went much like the first half, scoreless as the rain picked up, and playing became more difficult.
"Everything just seems heavier," Gibbs said. "Your shoes are soaking wet and your legs seem heavier so you don't get as much support from your teammates."
Fortunately Cav forward Ryan Trout didn't need any help; with four seconds left in regulation, he dribbled expertly through three Eagle defenders before netting a straight shot past Gorsegner to end the game and send the American players home all wet.
"It was a tough game," Barnes said. "Both teams were playing a little sloppy, but you expect that. We knew what we had to do. We had to win and we did. In the end we got the job done."