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The food at the dinner for U.S. college soccer panjandrums, assorted hangers-on and the coaches and players of the four teams that had reached the semifinals of last week's NCAA championships in Philadelphia was bland as bland—tasteless beef and potatoes followed by Jell-O. So utterly insipid was it all that one could be excused for wondering how the food had gone down with the four teams, for each of them, at least, had a distinctive flavor.
First there was the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, Dr. Ibrahim M. Ibrahim's Clemson Tigers from the Southern Division, whose 18-0-1 record was the best in the NCAA. When the chemistry professor's team rose to be introduced to the rest of the diners, it was as sleek, powerful and black as a limousine, for Clemson recruits almost exclusively in Ghana, Guyana, Nigeria and Jamaica. Here, certainly, was a side that would be happier with couscous, conch and the insanely spiced Jamaican meat pies.
Next Jim Lennox' Hartwick College team was introduced. A strong defensive club, winner of the New York Division with a 15-0-1 record and ranked No. 3 in the nation, it was made up almost exclusively of local and British players. They looked modish, with long hair and body shirts, in flagrant imitation of an English first-division professional team. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for these lads.
When they sat down, Jerry Yeagley's University of Indiana, the outfit everybody insisted on referring to as the "Cinderella team," took a bow. Upset winners over St. Louis and other Midwest soccer powers, Indiana finished the season 17-0-1 to gain the No. 2 ranking in the nation. With one important exception, the Hoosiers were genuine Midwestern American products. They might have liked the dinner.
And, finally, there were Steve Negoesco's University of San Francisco Dons, a m�lange of Norwegians, Nigerians, Guyanese, English and Californians. USF was the defending NCAA champion, but this year was ranked only No. 6 nationally. Perhaps Negoesco typified the Dons, a Greek-Orthodox Romanian leading the Jesuit school's polyglot side. Negoesco fancies Italian food.
On Saturday, the day after the banquet, Hartwick faced Indiana in the first of back-to-back semifinals before 4,215 half-frozen fans in Penn's cavernous Franklin Field. Through the first half, the Hoosiers' hard-charging, be-first-to-the-ball midfielders contained Hartwick's sophisticated play, but barely. Playing two-on-one, and sometimes three-on-one defensively, IU ran the risk of breakaways by Hartwick's explosive forwards. But the threat never materialized. In the first half, heavily favored Hartwick, which had allowed only seven goals in its 16 regular-season games, and Indiana, which had scored 92 times in its 18 games, played scoreless ball.
After halftime, however, Indiana unveiled its prime weapon. Angelo DiBernardo is a freshman and a native of Argentina who has lived in Chicago for the past five years. He is a striker of awesome agility and speed and has the deadliest toe in the Midwest (SI, Nov. 15). Yeagley explained why DiBernardo had not appeared in the first half. "We only use Angelo when we have to," he said. "He has a double groin pull and keeps getting reinjured. We decided that if we were down 1-0, or scoreless at the half, we'd use him."
With 8:43 gone in the half, DiBernardo took a pass 30 yards out on the left sideline and, controlling the ball with a deft South American touch, streaked inside and downfield. Two Hartwick defenders came up to meet him at the penalty line. DiBernardo simply stopped dead, letting the Hartwick players follow the trickling ball, then ran around them, pulled it in and shot hard past the outstretched goalie for the score.
In a minute and a half, Hartwick returned the favor, Midfielder Joey Ryan heading in a shot that glanced downward off the crossbar and past IU's diminutive goalie, Cary Feld.
But a minute later DiBernardo decided the game for IU, netting a weak shot to make the score 2-1. Although Hartwick controlled the final 30 minutes of play, being awarded numerous corner kicks, free kicks and throw-ins—mostly because IU's bruising tactics kept drawing referees' whistles—they failed to score. Even the likes of Fullback Glenn Myernick, a U.S. Olympic team member, couldn't overcome what DiBernardo had done. Wrapped in a football storm coat, DiBernardo was back on the sideline after only 30 minutes on the field.