Howard University, deprived of the fruits of her accomplishment three years ago, became the first predominately black College to win a major national title Saturday by downing perennial soccer champion St. Louis in a fourth overtime.
Other National Collegiate Athletic Association crowns have been acquired by sister schools, but all previously were in the college division category. The Bison feat was achieved at the NCAA's Division 1 (university) level.
The victory was trebly sweet because (1) it was recorded on the opposing team's home grounds; (2) it registered the first big college win, and (3) it firmed up a claim that was taken away in 1971 at Miami.
Howard's Kenneth Illodigwe hit a goal post once, missed an open net, then scored on a 10-yard bullet shot in front of the net in the fourth overtime to seal the victory.
The No. 1-ranked Bisons, completing a perfect season with their 19th straight win, gained the title that was denied them in 1971 for suing ineligible players.
They beat St. Louis, 3-2, that year, but the courts later ruled the law which forced them to forfeit the title was unconstitutional.
Ayomi Bamiro put the game into overtime when he headed in a goal for Howard with 27 minutes left. Tunde Balogun set up the score by dribbling in from the corner and lofting a high shot in front of the goal.
Howard, comprised mostly of kickers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Nigeria, had the best scoring chances in the overtime periods, hitting a goal post and the cross bar and twice missing open nets.
In the second overtime, Illodigwe, a freshman from Nigeria, kicked a shot off the goal post and he booted one a yard over an empty net in the third overtime.
But with 28 seconds gone in the fourth sudden death session, he took a pass from Richard Day and kicked it into the net past goalie Rob Vallero.
The loss dropped the Billikens' record to 18-3-1 and took away their bid to become the first team to win the championship three consecutive years.
St. Louis scored only 2:12 into the game and nursed its 1-0 lead until Bamiro tied it. A head shot by the Billikens' Kevin Hadlan bounced in front of the goal and Done Droege shot the ball into the right corner while Bison Goalie Trevor Leiba was out of position from an earlier shot.
Earlier in the day, Hartwick College captured third place after defeating UCLA 3-1.