OMAHA, Neb. - All-American Ethan Finlay scored twice and the No. 2-seeded Creighton men's soccer team moved into the NCAA Tournament Third Round with a 3-0 win over Northern Illinois Sunday afternoon at a frigid Morrison Stadium.
The win was Creighton's ninth straight and its eighth straight shutout, while it kept the Bluejays perfect at home on the season, moving to 12-0-0 in Omaha. The 19-2-0 Bluejays will host a third round match next Sunday at 1 pm against tonight's Providence at No. 15-seed UC Santa Barbara winner.
The Bluejays got on the board in the 21st minute when Jose Gomez scored his fourth goal of the season. The junior midfielder one timed a crossing pass from Eric Miller into the lower left hand corner, beating first-team All Mid-American Conference goalkeeper Jordan Godsey for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
Creighton padded its lead just before halftime when Finlay took a feed from Greg Jordan and ripped a shot past Godsey to give the Jays a 2-0 lead in the 43rd minute.
Northern Illinois (15-6-0) did not record a shot until a header with less than 10 seconds left in the first half.
The Bluejays then held off the Huskies in the second half, with Isaac Kannah's shot in the 61st minute serving as the only shot on goal for NIU in the match.
Finlay added the final tally of the day on a well executed corner kick in the 88th minute. Bruno Castro, who assisted the first goal of the day, sent a corner kick to the far post where Jake Brown headed the ball back to the middle where Finlay knocked in a header for his fifth multiple-goal match of the season. The two-time MVC Player of the Year now has a conference-leading 13 goals on the season, while he has four goals in his last two NCAA Tournament appearances at Morrison Stadium.
"To be fair, Creighton
was the best team we have played in a long time, that is including
Akron," said Northern Illinois head coach Eric Luzzi after the match.
"Akron is in our conference and we play them once, sometimes twice a
year. That team we just played,
on both sides of the ball, is about as good a team as I have seen in
the last couple of years."
Creighton outshot NIU 13-4 in the match, needing MVC Goalkeeper of the Year Brian Holt to make just one save in his 42nd career shutout and 55th career win.
"We cannot just attribute our defense on our four defenders, it goes through the entire team" said first-year Bluejay head coach Elmar Bolowich after picking up his first NCAA win at Creighton. "When we lose the ball, you see how hard Ethan (Finlay) is working to put pressure on the other players and then the guys underneath, Choco (Jose Gomez) and Bruno (Castro) - how hard they work to get the ball back, it makes it very difficult for other teams to get in a comfortable rhythm."
Creighton, the No. 2-seed in the tournament, will play host to the winner between Providence and No. 15-seeded UCSB next Sunday at 1 pm at Morrison Stadium. That second round match kicks off at 7 pm (CST) today in Santa Barbara. Creighton defeated Providence 3-0 earlier this season in Omaha and topped UCSB 1-0 in California last year.
NOTES: Creighton is 24-16-4 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, 9-4-0 at home and 8-1-0 at Morrison Stadium ... CU has scored at least two goals in each of its eight NCAA victories at Morrison Stadium ... CU tied its school
record (set at the start of this season) with its eighth consecutive
shutout ... CU has outscored opponents 25-1 in Omaha this year ... At
12-0-0 at home this year, CU has won 13 straight home games, two shy of
the CU record ... CU has not allowed a goal in its last 747:42 played
... Holt has been in goal for 737:42 of those shutout minutes, just 16
minutes shy of his own school record for consecutive scoreless minutes
... CU leads the NCAA with 19 wins, a school and MVC record 17 shutouts,
0.19 goals against average and 93.3 save percentage ... With two goals today, Finlay became the sixth player in school history and the 10th in MVC history to reach 100 career points. He now has 101 points (42 g, 17 a) to rank sixth in CU and 10th in MVC history ... Finlay now has 10 multi-goal matches in his career, including two in the NCAA Tournament ... Finlay's five career NCAA Tournament goals are one shy of the CU record ... With two assists today, Castro now leads the team with eight on the season ... The win was No. 299 in Elmar Bolowich's career, his 21st career NCAA Tournament win ... Wind chill was 20 degrees at kick off with an actual temperature of 30 degrees.