OMAHA, Neb. - Bradley scored a pair of first half goals and held on for a 2-1 win over 10th-ranked Creighton despite the Bluejays out-shooting the Braves 18-0 in the second half. The loss was Creighton's first in Missouri Valley Conference play, coming on the final day of the regular-season. The Bluejays are now 5-1-1 in league play with at least a share of the regular-season title, depending on the result of tonight's SIU Edwardsville match at Missouri State.
The match started with the teams exchanging scoring chances and the ball being played from end to end. Bradley struck first, scoring in the 13th minute. Jochen Graf set up the goal, carrying the ball into the corner before sending a low crossing pass back to the top of the box for Christian Meza. Meza drove a ball which stayed on the ground to the lower left corner and out of the reach of Bluejay goalkeeper Brian Holt.
Creighton wasted no time in answering, scoring the equalizer less than two minutes later. Jose Gomez worked the ball into the box and after some fancy footwork to get space from his defender, he sent a nifty left-footed shot from the right side of the goal and over Bradley keeper Brian Billings into the left side netting. The goal was the fourth of the season for Gomez.
Bradley scored what proved to be the final goal of the match in the 27th minute, as the Braves again worked the ball from the right side back to the middle for the score. Graf again sent a pass to the middle where freshman Aodhan Quinn finished from near the top of the box, hitting a ball on the outside of this foot which again beat Holt to the lower left corner.
Holt also made four saves in the first half to keep the Bluejays within striking distance. The Braves owned a 10-9 shots advantage at the break.
Bradley's strategy was clearly altered coming out of the half up one goal, as the Braves did not attack in the second half, opting to defend for the final 45 minutes. The Bluejays had possession for nearly the entire second half, unloading 18 shots in the final 45 minutes alone, including seven which made their way on goal.
Billings stood tall for the Braves in goal on several scoring chances by the Bluejays in the second half. In the 63rd minute, a nice build up led to Ethan Finlay blasting a close range shot which Billings stopped, but didn't hold on to, and Sergio Castillo followed with a quicker header just to the right of the frame. A free kick by Gomez in the 80th minute would have found the back of the net without a leaping save from Billings.
Perhaps Creighton's best chance to even the match came in the 85th minute as Castillo sent a blast from near the top of the 18-yard box. Castillo's shot was saved but spilled to Gomez, who's quick tap was covered by Billings to keep the lead for BU. Castillo had another fantastic scoring opportunity in the 88th minute, but his drive was again turned away by the BU keeper.
Creighton would end with a season-high 27 shots, out-shooting the Braves 18-0 after the half and 27-10 for the match. All of Billings' seven saves in goal for BU came in the second half.
The loss was Creighton's first ever defeat on Senior Day at Morrison Stadium, which opened in 2003. The Bluejays had won seven straight games on Senior Day, with their last loss coming to No. 4 SMU in 2002 – also a 2-1 final. The Jays would rebound from that loss, win the MVC Tournament and advance all the way to the College Cup.
The Bluejays will now await the outcome of the SIUE-MSU match in Springfield, Mo., tonight to learn of their postseason seed. They know they have earned a first-round bye in the upcoming State Farm MVC Tournament in Peoria, Ill., whether they are the No. 1 or No. 2 seed will be determined by tonight's outcome.
With both SIUE and MSU entering the match with 4-1-1 records in MVC play, both have a chance to share the regular-season title with the Bluejays. Should the teams tie, Creighton would own the title out-right. If MSU wins, the Bluejays will be the top-seed by virtue of their 2-0 win over the Bears on Wednesday. If SIUE wins, MVC tie-breakers will be used to determine which team is the top-seed. Because of CU's 2-2 tie with SIUE, the second, third or even fourth tie-breakers may come in to play.
The Bluejays will begin play at the MVC Tournament next Friday in Peoria.
NOTES: Creighton honored seven players of this academic class prior to the match – former Bluejay Tucker Sindlinger (who missed this season because of injury), redshirt juniors Bryan Hoie and Brian Holt and seniors Sergio Castillo, Kyle Deremer, Andrew Duran and Josh Moran ... Hoie and Holt still have one season of eligibility remaining and Duran will apply for a medical redshirt at the end of the season after suffereing a knee injury in CU's fifth match ...Creighton finished with a 12-6 goals advantage in MVC play, SIUE enters tonight with a 12-7 goal advantage in Valley play ... The MVC men's soccer tie-breakers in regards to a two-way tie are as follows: (1) Head-to-head Conference competition with the winner being the higher seeded team.
(2) Composite record (greatest number of points) in the matches tied teams played against all other teams ranked above the two tied teams in the final league standings (not applicable to tie for first place)
(3) Goal differential, conference matches only (goals for minus goals against)
(4) Fewest goals conceded, conference matches only
(5) Latest available RPI ranking