RICHMOND, Va. -- Eighth-seeded Indiana showed why most polls had it ranked No. 2 all season.
Aleksey Korol scored two goals as the Hoosiers routed Santa Clara, 4-0, yesterday in a national semifinal game at Richmond Stadium.
Indiana (22-2) advances to the national championship game for the sixth time and will be in search of its first national title since 1988. Santa Clara (15-5-2), which lost for the first time since Oct. 30, didn't put a shot on goal.
"This is one of the best games we've played this season," Indiana coach Jerry Yeagley said. "We did all the things we wanted to do."
Korol scored 20: 19 into the game, converting a rebound from 15 yards out. Three minutes later, Nick Garcia put the Hoosiers up 2-0, settling a loose ball before scoring from 16 yards.
Korol sealed Indiana's sixth consecutive win, beating Santa Clara goalkeeper Dave Alexander with a shot just outside the box. It's the first time that the Broncos had given up four goals in six years.
"Indiana came in focused," Santa Clara coach Mitch Murray said. "Our guys didn't quit, but today we were outclassed."
The first major incident of the Final Four occurred 10 1/2 minutes into the Maryland-Stanford game, when Terrapins midfielder Randy Merkel confronted Cardinal defender Jamie Clark and apparently head-butted him.
The officials first only orally reprimanded Merkel and then issued him a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct rather than ejecting him with a red card.
"In the visual view of the referee and the assistant referee, they did not see a head butt," said Dan Koehane, coordinator of officials. "They saw the language beforehand."
After the game, Merkel sought out Clark, apologizing to him for the contact.
"It was in the heat of the game," Clark said. "I told him to get up because I thought he took a dive, and he just kind of stood up and knocked into me. I don't even know if he meant to."
The crowd of 17,616 was the smallest for the national semifinals since 1994. The men's soccer championship weekend, which had averaged more than 20,000 in its previous three years in Richmond, moves to Charlotte, N.C., next year. Maryland senior midfielder Keith Beach received third-team All-America honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America yesterday. Towson forward Richie Moller was named to the second team.
It was Stanford's 15th shutout this season. The Cardinal also won by one goal for the fifth time this season.
Pub Date: 12/12/98