Saturday Soccer: Creighton Claims MVC Tournament No. 1 Seed; Bracket Set
Creighton secured the top seed in the 2008 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Soccer Tournament with a wild, 5-3, win at Eastern Illinois on Saturday. The Bluejays end the MVC season at 4-0-1, with 13 points, to claim their third-straight regular-season title, ninth overall and first outright since 2003. Drake opened up a tight match with Evansville with three second half goals to take a 4-1 win and earn the No. 2 seed in the MVC Tournament. Forward Garrett Webb found the net three times for the Bulldogs (4-1 MVC, 12 points), whose second place finish is their highest regular-season finish since 1994. Missouri State is the tournament’s No. 3 seed and will tangle with No. 6 seed Eastern Illinois in the opening round at 5 p.m., while Evansville and Bradley will meet in the 4/5 match-up at 7:30 p.m. The State Farm MVC Tournament will kick off with opening round matches on Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 5 p.m. in Evansville, Ind., at Black Beauty Field.
Creighton 5, Eastern Illinois 3
CU (12-1-2, 4-0-1 MVC); EIU (5-10-3, 0-5-0 MVC)
(Courtesy Creighton Sports Information) CHARLESTON, Ill. The second-ranked Creighton Bluejays defeated Eastern Illinois 5-3 Saturday afternoon to claim their third straight Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship and the top seed in the State Farm MVC Tournament in Evansville next weekend. Jeff Thayer scored twice for the Bluejays, as they improve to 12-1-2 overall and 4-0-1 in the MVC.
Creighton jumped on top early, with their quickest strike of the year. Senior Seth Sinovic scored his first goal of the season off an assist from freshman Ethan Finlay just 2:06 into the match to give CU what would be a brief 1-0 lead.
EIU responded with the game’s next two goals. Alex Harrison struck for the Panthers, his seventh goal of the season in the seventh minute tied the match and was Creighton’s first goal allowed in a road match this year. EIU took its first lead of the match in the 22nd minute when Jonathan Hinds found the back of the net for the first time this season.
CU evened the match before halftime, when junior Jeff Thayer tallied his fourth goal of the season in the 37th minute. Byron Dacy was credited with an assist on the score, less than 30 seconds after checking into the match for the first time.
The Panthers wasted little time in regaining the lead after halftime. Harrison netted his second goal of the contest, just 42 seconds into the second half.
The Jays responded just 64 seconds later to again even the match. Finlay’s fourth goal of the year was assisted by Sinovic at 46:46 and made the score 3-3.
Freshman Kris Clark’s first career goal came in the 53rd minute and proved to be the game-winner. Clark knocked the header in off another assist from Sinovic, his second of the match and team-leading fifth of the season. Thayer tacked on his second goal of the match, fifth of the year, in the 59th minute to give CU a two-goal cushion.
Creighton’s win pushed its undefeated streak to 11 matches (9-0-2). The win was also CU’s 11th straight match in MVC play without a loss (8-0-3), completing its second consecutive undefeated MVC season. Perhaps most impressive is CU’s 13-match unbeaten streak (10-0-3) away from Omaha since the beginning of the 2007 season, including 8-0-3 in true road games.
The Bluejays are the top seed in the upcoming State Farm MVC Tournament in Evansville, Ind. With the No. 1 seed, the Jays will earn a bye into Friday's semifinals with an opponent and time still to be determined.
NOTES: Creighton's five goals scored were its most since a 6-1 win over Central Arkansas on Sept. 27, 2006 ... The five goals were the most by CU on the road since a 6-0 win at Georgetown on Oct. 19, 2005 ... The five goals were the most by the Jays in an MVC regular-season match since a 5-1 win over Evansville on Oct. 28, 2001 ... CU's best offensive day of the year came without its leading scorer, as Andrei Gotsmanov sat out the match after receiving his fifth yellow card in CU's last contest ... CU has now won 13 straight against EIU and is 15-0-1 against the Panthers since they joined the MVC as an affiliate ... CU had allowed four goals in its previous 14 matches this year, before allowing three on Saturday ... Creighton's regular-season title is its third straight, however the last two were shared with Bradley ... The Jays now have nine MVC regular-season titles ... Redshirt freshman Alex Zanotto made his collegiate debut as a sub in the second half.
Drake 4, Evansville 1
DU (13-4-0, 4-1 MVC); UE (9-7-1, 2-3 MVC)
Story to come...
Central Arkansas 2, Bradley 1
CONWAY, Ark. Central Arkansas netted two goals in the game’s first eight minutes, then held off a Bradley rally late in the second half to beat the visiting Braves, 2-1, in Bradley’s regular season finale Saturday afternoon at Farris Field in Conway, Ark. For just the first time since an Oct. 22 match at Drake, the Braves fell behind in the first half. Just 5:29 into the contest, Central Arkansas freshman midfielder Jordan Prescott collected a loose ball off a deflection in the Bradley defense to put a shot past Bradley freshman goalkeeper Kyle Orne (Phoenix, Ariz./Desert Vista H.S.) for a 1-0 lead. The goal was Prescott’s team-high third of the season.
A little more than two minutes later, the Bears added to their lead with a goal in the eighth minute. A pass from midfielder Michael Moritz found its way to Ricky Garcia in the box, as Garcia took advantage of a one-on-one situation with Orne to put a shot past the Bradley keeper for a 2-0 lead. The score remained 2-0 until halftime.
Despite the deficit at the break, the Braves held a 6-5 advantage in shots and a 3-0 advantage in corner kicks.
The Braves continued to put pressure on the Bears in the second half and finally broke through in the 82nd minute on freshman Bryan Gaul’s (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley H.S.) fourth goal of the season, trimming Bradley’s deficit to 2-1. Sophomore Packy Amundsen (Peoria, Ill./Dunlap H.S.) assisted on the play to record his first points of the season. With just 8:21 remaining after Gaul’s tally, the Braves were unable to find the tying goal before time expired.
Bradley did not allow a single shot attempt from the Bears in the second half and finished the match with a 14-5 advantage. Bradley attempted four more corner kicks in the second half for a match-total of seven. Central Arkansas earned only two corner kick attempts. Orne made two saves in the defeat for the Braves, running his season total to 12 after making starts in goal in each of the last three contests. Central Arkansas freshman keeper Greg Brooks made four saves to earn his third victory of the campaign.
The victory for Central Arkansas is its first in three tries against the Braves after Bradley won the first two meetings in the series at Shea Stadium in 2006 and 2007. Bradley falls to 6-11-1 to finish the regular season, while Central Arkansas improves to 3-13-1 with one contest remaining on its schedule.
The Braves will now turn their attention to the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Soccer Championship beginning Wednesday, Nov. 12 in Evansville, Ind. The Braves are locked into the fifth seed in the tournament and will play in the tournament’s opening round on Wednesday against tournament host Evansville.