DALLAS, Texas - SMU scored with 15.6 seconds left on the clock in regulation to force overtime with the Creighton men's soccer team in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday night at Westcott Field. The Bluejays out-shot SMU 9-2 in two 10-minute overtime periods, but with the score knotted at 2-2 after 20 extra minutes, the Mustangs advanced by virtue of a 5-3 win in a penalty kick shootout. Creighton tied its season-high with 27 shots, including a season-best 16 on goal in the season-ending contest. The match, which officially is recorded as a draw, ends Creighton's season at 13-5-2.
Creighton dominated play against the fifth-seeded and seventh-ranked Mustangs, only to see a lucky bounce late in the game keep the match alive. The Mustangs were down 2-1 inside of a minute to play when they advanced the ball from their own goal box into their attacking area, when Conference USA co-Player of the Year Arthur Ivo unleashed a blast from roughly 30 yards away. The ball deflected off of a Bluejay defender's head, changing its original trajectory and beating Bluejay keeper Brian Holt for the equalizer with 15.6 seconds left in regulation.
In the first overtime SMU (15-2-1) managed to out-shoot the Bluejays 2-1, with Holt turning away a shot on goal. With 15-20 mph winds at their back in the second overtime, the Bluejays poured on the offense. Creighton attacked for nearly the entire 10-minute span, ripping eight shots, including four on goal in the second overtime. One of the SMU saves in the second overtime was a team save after an initial save was made by SMU keeper Craig Hill. Hill turned away a shot by Sergio Castillo, but he was unable to secure it and Kyle Deremer's follow-up was cleared off the line by an SMU defender. That team save was SMU's third of the night.
In the shootout, SMU and CU exchanged goals in the first round. In the second round, Hill stopped Jose Gomez's attempt to give the home team an edge. SMU would not miss throughout the shootout, ending with a 5-3 advantage, negating a need for CU's fifth attempt.
Just as it did in the first meeting between these teams in September and as it had done in 14 of its first 19 matches this year, Creighton scored first. MVC Player of the Year Ethan Finlay was in the right spot at the right time as Gomez sent a through ball into the middle of the box, but had his pass deflected by an SMU defender. The through ball by Gomez had pulled SMU goalkeeper Hill off of his line and the bad clearance found its way to Finlay, who tucked the ball into an open net in the 13th minute for his league-leading 15th goal of the season and his third in two NCAA matches this season.
The Jays had a golden opportunity to double their lead before halftime, when Gomez had Hill beat in the 37th minute, but slid his shot just outside the right post off of a feed from Dion Acoff.
The match remained 1-0 until the 79th minute when Conference USA Freshman of the Year Juan Castillo evened the match on a controversial goal. Castillo's header hit the cross bar and bounced straight down, before Holt punched it away and play continued, while the referee and assistant referee looked to each other for confirmation on the goal. After a few seconds of delay, the officials declared the ball had crossed the goal line and the match was even.
Creighton then called upon its own Castillo to answer SMU's Castillo just two minutes later. CU's Sergio Castillo crushed a rebound shot from 22 yards out past a beaten Hill in net for just his third career goal in four seasons. The shot was set up after one of SMU's three team saves on the night had prevented a Brent Kallman score.
The Jays looked to have wrapped up their first NCAA Tournament road win since 2005 as the clock ticked down inside of one minute to play, but Ivo's equivalent of football's "Hail Mary" was answered in the closing seconds.
Creighton's statistics reflected their dominating performance, while the outcome did not. The Bluejays out-shot the Mustangs 27-14, including 9-2 in overtime. In addition to their season-high shot total, the Bluejays logged a season-best 15 corner kicks, including eight in the second half.
The draw brings to an end the careers of three Bluejay seniors, all of which started in the match. Castillo, Deremer and Josh Moran wrapped up their Bluejay careers in gut wrenching fashion.
NOTES: Creighton is now 2-2 in NCAA Tournament shootouts, losing their last two ... CU is now 23-16-4 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including 14-7-4 on the road ... CU is 2-2-1 all-time against SMU in the NCAA Tournament ... Creighton starting midfielder Greg Jordan left the match in the 73rd minute after taking an elbow to the head, he did not return for the remainder of the match ... Castillo, Moran and Kris Clark converted PKs for Creighton ... Bluejay soccer alums Ray Ferri, Jay Fitzgerald and Lance Hill were among the CU supporters in the stands.
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