WEST POINT, N.Y. - Jamie Davin converted a penalty kick in the 72nd minute and Nick Kapus added an insurance goal in the 88th minute as American defeated Army, 2-0, in a Patriot League men's soccer match Saturday night at a cold and damp Clinton Field.
The first half featured quality scoring chances for both sides, but neither squad was able to find the back of the net. Each team finished the opening stanza with two shots on goal, but perhaps the most dangerous opportunity of the frame came when Army freshman midfielder Jakob Szabo blasted a hard shot that just missed the cage wide to the right. The play was set up by Army sophomore forward Michael Kim's free kick that was sent into the penalty area and was struck by Szabo.
American began to turn up the pressure in the second half, outshooting Army 15-2 in the period. Despite that statistic, the Black Knights had a shot to take the lead in the 61st minute when Kim received a pass in the box and unloaded a shot that was blocked by the American defense.
Army sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Currens played well for the Black Knights, making five saves and continually coming out of the cage to take away angles and forcing the American attackers to shoot from the perimeter. Currens received some help in the 71st minute when Army defenders came up with a pair of team saves during a hectic flurry of activity inside the penalty area.
American (5-4-0, 2-0-0 PL) broke through with what proved to be the game-winning goal just moments after that action when a foul was whistled against Army in the box and the Eagles were awarded a penalty kick. Davin took the kick and he calmly struck the ball into the upper left-hand corner of the net to give AU a 1-0 advantage.
Army was whistled for another foul in the box in the 87th minute, leading to a second American penalty kick. This time, Currens was up to the challenge, diving to his left to save a low shot that appeared ticketed for the lower corner of the goal.
The stop seemed to energize the Black Knights (1-8-0, 0-2-0 PL), but they were unable to generate any shots down the stretch.
American added an insurance marker in the 88th minute when Kapus took a feed from Davin and beat Currens with a low shot from the right side into the left-hand cover of the net.
American outshot Army 19-7 in the match, and the Eagles enjoyed a 7-4 edge in corner kicks.
Army head coach Russell Payne spoke about his team's performance following the match.
"We talked at halftime how this game was going to come down to one play on our side or their end," said Payne. "There was going to be a crucial moment, a moment in the box where we can't foul and we have to poach and we have to be alert. It just so happened at their end the ref called a close one and it went their way. That was the difference.
"Ryan did well to save the second penalty kick," added Payne. "At the other end, we didn't find our chances. We didn't find that final pass to that shot. We got into their box too many times to not give ourselves that opportunity. Once again, it's a game that we're in. Obviously, their second goal was us throwing everything at them and going into a three-back alignment and they countered us a man-down. Those things happen. You have to take those chances."
Army will conclude its six-game homestand on Saturday, Oct. 9, when the Black Knights host Colgate in a Patriot League match. Kickoff from Clinton Field is set for 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ITT Knight Vision with Rick Johnston handling the play-by-play duties.
Notes: Army's is now 2-8-1 all-time versus American ... Col. (retired) Jose Olivero served as Army's honorary captain ... he was honored during a special halftime ceremony as Army head coach Russell Payne and interim athletic director Col. Sam Johnson presented him with a framed autographed jersey.