OMAHA, Neb. - The Creighton men's soccer team defeated 2009 NCAA champion Virginia 2-1 on Saturday night in the third annual National Champions Challenge at Morrison Stadium. The match, part of the fifth annual Kicks for the Cure event that includes three women’s games the same day at Morrison Stadium, drew a record crowd and the event raised over $178,000. The funds raised at the event over the last five years now total over $730,000 and are used to support cancer research initiatives at UNMC Eppley Cancer Center and Creighton University Hereditary Cancer Center.
A picture perfect weather day for soccer saw the Cavaliers take the lead in the first half on a Shawn Berry goal. Berry sent in a deflection off of a Virginia free kick from 28 yards out. Despite trailing 1-0 at the half, the Bluejays held a slight advantage in chances and time of possession.
Thirteen minutes into the second half, forward Ethan Finlay made a long dynamic run without the ball and slipped between the Virginia Center backs and goalkeeper Diego Restrepo. Finlay, who had been giving the Virginia backs fits the first hour of the match with his speed and pressure, took two quick touches and buried the ball in the side netting to tie the match.
Eleven minutes later Finlay struck again, this time on a Creighton corner kick created from some creative wing play between newcomer Conor Doyle and reigning MVC Freshman of the Year Dion Acoff. Josh Moran took the corner and drove in a dipping inswinger that Bluejay center back Andrew Duran volleyed back across the face of the goal to Finlay who redirected the ball into the net for what proved to be the game-winning tally.
The Bluejays would dominate possession for the final 30 minutes of the second half, continually pressuring in the Virginia half.
Virginia, who led the NCAA in save percentage in 2009 and finished second with a 0.30 goals against average, had not given up two goals in a match since November 25, 2008 when they lost to Connecticut in the NCAA tournament (UConn would then fall 2-1 to Creighton in the next round of the event). UVA had not lost a match since Oct. 2, 2009.
Creighton knocked off Maryland 1-0 last year and tied Wake Forest 1-1 in the initial National Champions Challenge.
Creighton returns to action on Friday night in another special event. The Bluejays play host to the Canadian Youth National Team at Morrison Stadium on Friday, marking the first international match featuring the Creighton men’s team in the venue. The match is being sponsored by the Omaha Sports Commission. Tickets for the event go on sale to season ticket holders on Monday, April 19 and are available to the public at 10 a.m., on Thursday, April 22. They can be purchased by phone at 1-800-745-3000, online at www.ticketmaster.com or at Ticketmaster locatcions (Baker’s, Younkers). Fans can also purchase tickets by stopping by the Wayne and Eileen Ryan Athletic Center Ticket Office on April 22.