The Early Going Of The 2021 Season Has Featured Plenty Of Surprises
Creighton 3 – Indiana 0 – Slim to none. That was the chance of a 0-2-0 Creighton team that was coming off a 4-0 loss to Saint Louis traveling to Indiana and topping the Hoosiers. After all this was an Indiana team that was ranked as the number one team in the nation and that had not loss a regular season contest at home since 2015. But Creighton defied the odds by not only winning but by defeating Indiana 3-0 on Friday night to topple a number one team for the first time in the history of the men’s soccer program.
Creighton attacked from the get-go with senior forward Diego Gutierrez, the Big East Preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year, sending the rebound of teammate Manu Toledano’s blocked shot into the back of the net just a little over a minute into the game to give the Bluejays a lead that they would never relinquish. The goal placed IU in an early hole but with so much time remaining in the contest it seemed to be just a matter of time before the Hoosiers would recover and take control of the match. Instead, the hole that the Hosiers were in got a little deeper when senior midfielder Charles Auguste scored from 25 yards out after receiving a pass from redshirt junior Dominic Briggs during the 43rd minute of play. The teams went into intermission with Creighton holding a 2-0 advantage.
Creighton continued to attack in the second stanza with a high level of energy. Briggs pretty much put the contest on ice for the Bluejays during the 79th minute of play with a shot that a shot that deflected off an Indiana defender into the back of the net.
Creighton had an 18 to 7 advantage in shots for the evening and a 6 to 4 advantage in shots on goal. Indiana had a 12 to 5 advantage in corner kicks. Bluejay senior netminder Paul Kruse had a three save evening to secure the shutout. Roman Celentano had three saves in goal for Indiana.
It was a big win for a tradition rich Creighton program that seeks to regain the standing on the national scene that it once had. Bluejay head coach Johnny Torres stated, “I think our guys gained some belief back today and they see how good they can be. I think the group understands what the standards should look like, and I think they got a good glimpse of that tonight.” Torres added, “We’re going to use this to catapult ourselves into Monday.”
Creighton seeks to build on this win when they face Ohio State on Monday at 4 p.m. in Bloomington. The Buckeyes are coming off a 2-1 loss to Xavier on Friday night.
Indiana will seek to get back on track when they host Xavier at 8 p.m. on Monday.
Tulsa 3 – Missouri State 0 – Tulsa took it to number eight ranked Missouri State Friday night at Hurricane Stadium with an impressive showing on the both sides of the ball. Tulsa improves to 3-0-0 while Missouri State sustains their first loss of the season and drops to 2-1-0. Graduate Student forward Ben Barkley rifled a shot into the back of the net in the 19th minute of play from 18 yards out after receiving a pass from sophomore forward Malik Henry-Scott to give the Golden Hurricane a lead to give the Golden Hurricane the early momentum. Sophomore midfielder Luke Jeffus gave Tulsa a two-goal advantage with under two minutes remaining in the first half when he placed a shot into the upper shelf of the goal that was set up by a pass from veteran midfielder Chase Bromstedt netted the third and final goal of the evening for the Golden Hurricane in the 81st minute of the match when he found the space that he needed to drive a shot into the net from five yards out.
Alex Lopez had four saves in goal to secure the shutout for Tulsa. Redshirt senior Michael Creek had three saves between the pipes in a losing cause for Missouri State. Tulsa had a 19 to 10 advantage in goals and an 8 to 4 advantage in shots on goal.
Tulsa head coach Tom McIntosh stated, “Attacking wise we were really good tonight and we scored three really nice goals. We’ve been working on ways to create chances in other areas of the field. It was a good run by both Ben and Luke, and then for Malik a really good individual goal.”
A normally very consistent Missouri State never seemed to get untracked on the offensive side of the ball and were uncharacteristically porous on the defensive side of the ball. You would have to go back many years to find a season in which Missouri State allowed an allowed an opponent to score three times during a game.
Missouri State head coach designate Michael Seabolt stated, “The best response after a bad day is to stay positive and find out what we can do that’s proactive and look forward to being better. There’s no point in looking back at what we didn’t do but let’s look at what we can do.”
Tulsa which has wins over Creighton, Omaha and Missouri State will seek to add another notch to their win column when they host a ranked Marquette team on Monday at 7 p.m. that is also 3-0-0.
Missouri State will host a Central Arkansas team that has always played them close on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
West Virginia 3 – Penn State 1 – The Mountaineers under second year head coach and former West Virginia player Dan Stratford established that their 2-1 upset win on Monday over then number two ranked Pittsburgh out of the Atlantic Coast Conference was no fluke went they followed it up with a 3-1 win over a ranked and highly regarded Penn State team out of the Big Ten on Friday night before another nice and energetic crowd at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown. The wins over Pitt and Penn State marked the first time since 1998 that the Mountaineers had back-to-back wins over ranked opponents.
It looked it was going to be a back-and-forth contest during the early going but the momentum and tempo of the match clearly shifted to West Virginia when a Penn State player received a second yellow card in the 23rd minute of the match and the Nittany Lions had to play a man down from that point forward. Nonetheless a determined Penn State side was able to keep the contest close and the outcome in limbo for a large part of the contest.
West Virginia drew first blood when freshman defender Frederik Jorgensen scored from inside the box during the 34rd minute of the match with junior midfielder Luke McCormick contributing the helper. The teams completed the first 45 minutes of play with the Mountaineers up 1-0.
West Virginia got a little breathing room in the 53rd minute when redshirt sophomore back Bjarne Thiesen decisively drove a header into the net out of a corner kick to extend the lead to 2-0. Redshirt sophomore midfielder Sergio Ors Navarro was credited with the assist on Thiesen’s goal.
Penn State then drew one back in the 83rd minute of the match to make things interesting when sophomore defender Femi Awodesu scored out of a corner kick to close the gap to 2-1.
Fifth-year senior Pau Jimenez Albelda, an All-MAC 2020 selection, then responded with a goal for West Virginia with two minutes remaining in regulation to seal the win for the Mountaineers. Albelda’s goal out of a quick counterattack was set up by a very nice and crisp pass from senior defender Aaron Denk Gracia who transferred in last year from Mercy College.
Fifth-year senior Steven Tekesky, a 2020 All-MAC First Team selection, had two saves in goal for West Virginia. Junior Kris Shakes had six saves between the pipes for Penn State. West Virginia had a 16 to 8 advantage in shots and a 9 to 4 advantage in shots of goal for the evening.
Stratford stated, “I was pleased with how we finished the first half by taking the lead.” He added, “When we scored the second, it felt like it could turn into a game that could’ve gotten away from Penn State, but hats off to them and their effort. They fought their way back into the game to get it to 2-1.”
Penn State head coach Jeff Cook stated, “I want to compliment our players on the effort and determination to compete given the circumstances of playing a man-down for so long against a high-quality opponent.” Cook added, “We did an excellent job of creating chances to score and were eventually rewarded and pushed to try to tie the game up. We took some risks to try to score the tying goal but unfortunately West Virginia scored a third on the counterattack and put the game beyond reach. Despite our disappointment at losing tonight’s game, there are several positives we can take away from our performance.”
A West Virginia team with a ton of mojo improves to 3-0-0 and will host Loyola Maryland on Monday at 7 p.m.
Penn State drops to 1-1-1 with a 1-1 tie with George Mason in their season opener followed by a 3-0 win over Syracuse and the 3-1 loss to West Virginia. The Nittany Lions return to University Park and will host American University on Monday.