Creighton’s all-time winningest women’s soccer coach, Bruce Erickson begins his 15th year at the helm for the Bluejays in 2013. He has led the Jays to five NCAA Tournament appearances in the last 11 seasons, but 2013 will offer a new challenge as Creighton enters its first season as a member of the BIG EAST conference. Erickson’s squads played in seven of the past 11 Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Tournament championship matches, winning the crown in 2002, ’04, ’05, ’07 and ’10.
Coming off a difficult 2012 season that saw Creighton finish 3-13-3, Erickson spoke about the timing of the move to the BIG EAST.
“The move to the BIG EAST came a perfect time, it spurred us to look at our program and get back to the things that have made us successful. Knowing that we are going to a league that doesn’t have a weak team truly resets your focus,” noted Erickson.
Focus has been a staple of Erickson’s tenure at Creighton. Since arriving at Creighton prior to the 1999 season, Erickson has revitalized the women’s soccer program. He took the Bluejays from a seven-win season in 1999 to four consecutive MVC tournament championship matches between 2002-05. Creighton’s climb to prominence continued with five NCAA appearances in a nine-year span (2002, ’04, ’05, ’07 and ’10). The Jays ascension reached its current peak with a school-record 15 wins in 2010. Erickson also earned his second MVC Coach of the Year honor in 2010, the first coming in 2002.
Erickson led the Bluejays to a 9-6-3 mark in 2011. Creighton’s season came to an end in the opening round of the MVC Tournament as the Bluejays tied Northern Iowa 1-1, but were bested in a shootout, 5-3.
One of the best teams in school history, the 2010 squad won both the MVC regular-season and tournament titles, putting together a 15-4-2 overall record, including a league-record 10-match
winning streak. The streak matched the most by a team in Creighton history (the Bluejays also won 10 straight in 1994), while the 15 wins set a school record. Erickson and his staff were named the MVC Coaching Staff of the Year in 2010, while Omaha native Brittney Neumann earned Player of the Year, joining Jaimie Thompson as one of two recipients under Erickson.
After starting the 2010 season 2-2-2 and scoring just nine goals in the first six matches, the squad rattled off 10 consecutive wins, out scoring opponents 29-5. Once the streak ended with a 2-1 loss to Missouri State, the Jays responded by clinching the regular-season title with a 2-1 overtime win versus Illinois State. Creighton’s 50 goals scored placed them second in program history, while the squad finished ninth in the NCAA, scoring 2.38 goals per game. The win over Illinois State also gave Erickson his 200th career coaching win. In the MVC Tournament, the Jays
continued their dominance with a 5-0 win over Evansville in the semifinal round, then exacted a measure of revenge with a 2-1 overtime win against Missouri State. Creighton’s run, however, ended with a 4-2 loss at Minnesota in the NCAA Tournament.
The 2009 squad finished 13-6-2, setting school records with 11 shutouts and a 0.60 goals-against average (13th in the NCAA). Creighton logged four consecutive shutouts to start the season and ended the year in its sixth MVC Tournament title match since 2002. Neumann became the third Bluejay to earn MVC Freshman of the Year honors under Erickson.
The Jays’ 12-6-1 2008 season was highlighted by Erickson’s 100th win at Creighton – a 2-0 triumph over Drake on Sept. 28. Marcy Gans also became the Creighton career scoring leader,
finishing with 38 goals and 91 points.
After missing the NCAA postseason in 2006, the 2007 team caught fire late in the season, capturing its fourth MVC Tournament title by prevailing over Illinois State in penalty kicks (4-3). The Jays’ season ended with a loss to eventual NCAA champion USC in the NCAA Tournament, despite being tied with the Trojans at halftime.
In 2005, the Bluejays owned a high-powered attack which led the league in offense. Sophomore Kristine Willrett tied a school record with 12 assists. Creighton was dominant at home, compiling an 8-1-1 record, while winning a second straight MVC postseason title, as tournament host.
The 2004 Bluejays managed to capture the MVC tournament title for the second time in school history after finishing second in the regular-season with a 3-1-3 league record.
Creighton’s 2003 season was marked by injuries, yet Erickson still guided his team to an 11-6-4 record and a then school-record 0.81 goals-against average. The Bluejays also appeared in the MVC tournament championship match for the second consecutive season, falling in penalty kicks to Illinois State.
Erickson’s 2002 squad won the MVC regular-season title, going unbeaten (6-0-1) in conference play. The Jays then captured the MVC tournament title with a thrilling 1-0 overtime win against Illinois State, advancing to the first NCAA tournament in program history. The 2002 team allowed just three goals in seven MVC matches for a 0.42 goals-against average.
The Jays’ success under Erickson extends beyond the playing field, as he has coached 26 All-MVC First Team scholar-athletes and the Bluejays have won the NSCAA College Team Academic Award each of the past 12 seasons. Alicia Montgomery picked up the 2010 MVC Elite 18 award for academic and athletic success, while Montgomery and Claire Zach earned Academic All-District VII First Team honors. In 2003, Krystle Campa earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors.
On the field, 23 Bluejays earned All-MVC First Team honors during Erickson’s tenure. In 2002 under Erickson’s guidance, Jaimie Thompson became the first goalkeeper in league history to win the MVC Player of the Year award. Regina Moench captured 2001 MVC Freshman of the Year honors and in 2004 Franny Hylok became just the second player in school history to earn All-MVC honors in each of her four seasons at Creighton.
Another example of Erickson’s eye for talent has been reflected in the hiring of quality assistant coaches. Three of his former Creighton assistants are currently collegiate head coaches. Heather Cairns (Utah State) and Erika True (Indiana State) both served as assistant coaches under Erickson, while Becky (Heiberger) McCabe (St. Cloud State) was both a player and an assistant for Erickson.
Erickson came to Creighton from Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wis., where he served as head men’s soccer coach from 1993-98 and director of athletics from 1995-98. He helped instill a winning
soccer tradition at the NAIA school, as the V-Hawks were consistently nationally-ranked during his tenure. The Brooklyn Park, Minn. native also was responsible for starting and coaching the inaugural Viterbo women’s soccer team in 1995.
While at the helm of the V-Hawk men’s squad, Erickson compiled an overall record of 69-46-6 (.595), which included five winning campaigns. He led Viterbo to three Midwest Classic Conference championships and one NAIA district title. He also earned league “Coach of the Year” four times and was named both league and NAIA District “Coach of the Year” in 1993.
Erickson has served as a high school girls’ staff coach for the Olympic Development Programs in Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin. He holds an NSCAA advanced national diploma as well as a NSCAA goalkeeping diploma.
Before his coaching career at Viterbo, Erickson was a four-year starting goalkeeper for the V-Hawks from 1986 to 1990. He was an all-conference goalkeeper and earned NLCAA All-America honors in 1986. Erickson still holds the all-time goals-against average record at the school, with a 0.87 GAA during his collegiate career.
Erickson received a bachelor of science degree in industrial psychology from Viterbo in December 1990. He has three children, Emma (17), Olivia (14) and Noah (12)