Soccer World Is Shaken By Championship Victory Of Howard University

Date Published: 
1972-01-20
Source: 
Jet
Page: 
52

Three hundred Howard University students, faculty and alumni streamed onto the field of the Orange Bowl stadium on New Year's Eve in Miami, Fla., and with the assistance of a 40-piece pep band, the crowd celebrated the most amazing and spectacular victory in Black collegiate sports.

After a 25-year effort, the Howard University soccer team defeated (3-2) the reigning champions, St. Louis University, to win the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. (NCAA) championship. The victory marked the first time in history that a Black college had even captured a national collegiate championship.

It was a win that brought tears to the eyes of veterans such as Ted Chambers, who for more than a quarter century kept soccer alive at Howard when first-rate teams refused to play the outfit. The budget for soccer during that time was so low that the team wore the worst looking uniforms and has well-used equipment, and interest on the campus about soccer dipped well below that reserved for football and basketball. But on the closing day of 1971, the Howard aggregation composed of Africans, American Blacks, students from the Caribbean and coached by a man who was fired as coach of the professional Darts team in the nation's capital, Lincoln Phillips, made come true the impossible dream. At no time did anyone other than the Howard family believe the brothers would go the distance. In Miami, it was an accepted fact that St. Louis, with a record of 44 straight victories, would capture their fourth national championship.

As if the script had already been written, St. Louis scored in the first three minutes of the game and scored again three minutes later. Sidelined because of an infection and a souring fever, Keith Aqui, the Howard team's high scorer with 25 goals this year, approached coach Phillips, according to one reporter, "with tears in his eyes." "He should have been in bed," said the coach. "But Aqui wanted to help his teammates." So Aqui and another injured player, Alvin Henderson, also from Trinidad, put together a closing drive to tie the game at 2-2 at the first half.

A minute after the second half began, Henderson scored a goal and Howard University had achieved a victory that will long be remembered in the soccer world. As on Howard coach said, "Few dailies even bothered to carry an account of the game or the impact of the win."

Already a formidable squad after a 15-0 season, the Howard team defeated Harvard and the University of West Virginia to advance to the finals. After the Miami conquest, the team traveled to the West Indies for a four game exhibition series. When the Howard team returns, the hilltop campus is expected to give a "ripping" welcome to the Bisons, who brought home the national trophy.