OMAHA, Neb. – Head men’s soccer coach Elmar Bolowich has announced the hiring of Justin Hughes as an assistant coach to be a part of his first Creighton staff. Hughes, a former collegiate and professional goalkeeper, will officially start at Creighton on June 1, coming to Omaha after spending one season as an assistant coach at Elon University in North Carolina.
Hughes was a four-year letterwinner at North Carolina, playing under Bolowich from 2003-06. Following a standout collegiate career, he was drafted by the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer and spent two seasons with the Rapids.
“Justin will be a very good addition to our staff,” said Bolowich of his hire. “His primary responsibility will be to work with our goalkeepers, as I feel that’s a special position that deserves special attention. Having been a four-year collegiate goalkeeper and a professional keeper, he certainly brings in experience and expertise. I know him well, having coached him for four years and he has a tremendous work ethic and passion for the game. I’m very excited to have him join us here.”
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to work at Creighton University,” said Hughes. “I had the honor to play for Coach Bolowich at North Carolina and I look forward to working with Coach on a professional level here at Creighton. I leave a tremendous experience at Elon University, however I am thrilled to begin my new role with the storied Bluejays soccer program. I am very appreciative for the opportunity and look forward to being a part of continued success in Omaha.”
The Wake Forest, N.C., native started all 43 matches he appeared in during his four seasons with the Tar Heels. UNC advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of his four seasons in Chapel Hill, with Hughes posting two of the top three goals against average marks in school history. As a junior in 2005, he led the ACC with a 0.50 GAA, the second-best mark in school history at that point. His junior season included seven shutouts, six of which he posted consecutively to tie a UNC record. He was tabbed to the ACC All-Tournament Team in 2005 as well.
Prior to his senior season in 2006, he was named a MAC Hermann Trophy candidate, an honor bestowed upon the top player in collegiate soccer. He finished his career at UNC ranked second in school history with a 0.79 career goals against average. In addition to his play at UNC, he was also a member of the United States U-20 National Team, selected as one of 21 players to participate in the 2005 FIFA Youth World Championships in Holland. A Dean’s List honoree and member of the ACC All-Academic Team, he also excelled in the classroom.
Following his successful collegiate career, Hughes spent two seasons with the Colorado Rapids, helping the team to a 2007 Reserve Division title. He was also selected as the recipient of the 2008 Colorado Rapids Community Service Award after making 60 community appearances to schools, soccer clinics and camps. Hughes also spent one season playing for Real Maryland FC of the United Soccer Leagues before he coached the keepers for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Elon during the 2010 season.
Hughes, who turns 26 on Saturday, graduated from North Carolina with a double major in exercise and sport science and geography.
Hughes joins assistant coach Johnny Torres and graduate manager Matt Wieland on Bolowich’s first staff at Creighton. Bolowich, who was hired on Feb. 9 and started March 1, will enter his first full season at Creighton this fall after leading North Carolina to 15 NCAA Tournament appearances in 22 seasons, including the 2001 NCAA championship and College Cup appearances in each of the last three seasons.
Creighton finished the 2010 season 13-5-2 and ranked 14th in the final NSCAA poll of 2010, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the 18th time in 19 seasons. The Bluejays return their top six scorers and eight starters from the 2010 team, including MVC Player of the Year and National Player of the Year candidate Ethan Finlay.