Omaha, Neb. - The Creighton Bluejays open their 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Schedule against defending champion Illinois State on Saturday, Sept. 29.
Scouting the Creighton Bluejays (3-6-2, 0-0-0):
Creighton will look to put the non-conference season behind them as the Bluejays begin Missouri Valley Conference play with the Redbirds on Saturday, Sept. 29.
The Jays are coming off a 1-1-0 week that saw Creighton play some of its best soccer of the season. Creighton downed South Dakota State 2-1 on Sept. 19, then dropped a heartbreaking 1-0 (2ot) decision to Oral Roberts on Sunday, Sept. 23.
Illinois State and Creighton last met in Normal, Ill. on Oct. 27, 2011. Illinois State took that meeting 8-1, the last time the two teams faced off in Morrison Stadium was on Oct. 28, 2010. The Jays won that contest, 2-1 (ot). In that meeting, Brittney Neumann delivered the game-winning goal for the Jays.
Neumann continues to lead Creighton’s offensive charge this season with four goals and nine points. Youth, however, has been the driving force for the Jays this season as five of the Bluejays’ 10 freshmen have already scored in 2012.
Defensively the Jays have steadily improved as the season has gone on, after surrendering 13 goals in their first six matches, Creighton has limited its last five opponents to just five goals. Sophomore Madelyn Buckner has grown into her role as defensive captain, becoming a more physical and vocal leader on the field as the defense has improved.
In goal the Jays continue to rely on senior Katie Jo Swanson, who has played every second for Creighton this season. Swanson set a career-high in saves in consecutive matches against Cal State Fullerton (11) on Sept. 9 and again against UMKC (13) on Sept. 13. She has lowered her Goals Against Average (GAA) to 1.54. On the season Swanson has allowed 18 goals and made 78 saves for a .812 save percentage. Swanson’s 78 saves ranks fourth in the nation.
Scouting the Illinois State Redbirds (6-3-2, 0-1-0):
Illinois State comes to Omaha following a surprising 4-1 loss at Evansville to open Missouri Valley Conference play last Saturday. The Redbirds are the defending MVC Champion and were picked earn another trip to the NCAA Tournament this season. Illinois State won the three previous matches, downing UW-Green Bay 2-1 on Sept. 19, defeating Toledo 1-0 on Sept. 16 and besting Bowling Green 2-1 on Sept. 14.
The Redbirds are led offensively by 2011 MVC Player of the Year Rachel Tejada. The sophomore has 10 goals and three assists in 11 matches (23 points).
Sophomore Aryn Newsom has minded the goal for Illinois State. Newsom has allowed 14 goals and made 39 saves this season. She enters Saturday’s match with a 1.46 GAA and a .736 save percentage.
Swanson Putting the Nation on Notice, 78 Saves Ranks Fourth:
With 78 saves this season, senior goalkeeper Katie Jo Swanson has the fourth most saves in the nation. Howard’s Kyra Dickinson and Jackson State’s Taylor Emerson are tied for the top spot with 99 saves, while Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Alyssa Cobbs is third with 88 saves.
Lets Get it Started:
Creighton is 10-3-2 (.733) in MVC Conference openers including a 9-2-2 (.769) record under head coach Bruce Erickson. The Jays have won their last four conference openers, including a 1-0 win over Northern Iowa last season.
Five Fresh Faces:
The Bluejays continue to get their new class involved this season. Five of the 10 freshman have already scored, boosted by Kaelyn Korte notching a goal and an assist in the Jays’ 2-1 win over South Dakota State on Sept. 19. The last time Creighton had five freshman score in one season was in 2009, when Sarah Kendall, Alexa Lind, Laura Nasseri, Brittney Neumann and Kat Wright all scored. In just 11 matches this season the Jays have points from Alyssa Jara (3), Korte (3), Jill Richgels (3), Alissa Kohmetscher (2) and Maddie Nelson (2).