A Creighton soccer team that started the month hungry for wins finished off an October feast with Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Missouri State.
The triumph, before 1,143 at Morrison Stadium, completed an unbeaten month for the No. 21 Bluejays. Creighton went 7-0 in October to improve to 12-3-2 overall and 4-0-1 in the Missouri Valley.
While Creighton coach Elmar Bolowich has pointed out that the October portion of the schedule wasn’t as demanding as the first five weeks, he’s still encouraged by what he’s seen from his team.
“We’ve settled down and our style is coming to life a little bit,” Bolowich said. “Our team shows an identity, and now we just have to work toward making progress in being sharper and crisper.
“We’re playing together and the guys are working for each other. There are a lot of positives that we can take from that.”
The victory stretched Creighton’s unbeaten streak to eight — the Bluejays closed September with a scoreless tie against Drake. They also extended their streak of scoreless minutes in Valley play to almost 1,300.
Creighton has shut out its last 12 league opponents. Missouri State is the last Valley team to score on the Bluejays, having done so in the 2011 conference opener when the Bears notched a 1-0 win.
“I’ve actually lost to those guys twice in my first three years here,” midfielder Brent Kallman said. “I did not want to lose to them again. We remember losing that game last year, and that one left a bad taste in our mouths. It was good to get this one.”
Kallman, one of four seniors honored before their last regular-season home match, shares his coach’s belief that the Bluejays went through a growth spurt in October.
“We’re playing better,” he said. “We’ve progressed every week in practice and we’ve figured out how we want to play. We’re going out and executing, and we’re trying to put our style on our opponents.
“Early in the year, we were searching within ourselves and the coaches were trying to settle on how we wanted to play. We’re figuring it out right now, and we’ve kind of hit our stride.”
Creighton got the game’s only goal in the 20th minute when freshman Timo Pitter knifed through the Missouri State defense, beating goalkeeper Andrew Riggs with a crossing shot from about 10 yards.
The goal in the first half was important because it prevented Missouri State from playing the defensive-minded game it likes to utilize. The Bears came into the match needing at least a tie to keep alive their hopes of making the Valley tournament.
“It’s always important to score early in a game,” said Pitter, who leads the Bluejays with seven goals this season. “But after we scored, we slowed down a little bit. That wasn’t good because it wasn’t the game we want to play. We want to play with pressure and speed.”
Still, the lead gave Creighton a bit of a comfort zone against an opponent that averages just 3.3 shots on goal per game. The Bears tried to press the attack in the second half, but didn’t place an attempt on goal against Jeff Gal, who notched his fourth straight shutout and sixth of the season.
“Once we scored that goal, I actually felt pretty comfortable about our chances of coming through in that game,” Bolowich said. “It made them have to play, and Missouri State tried to do a little more as the game went on.
“They played, and they were a pretty tough team. They made it difficult on us, especially when we got the ball in the final third. They were always pressuring us, and we didn’t get a lot of open looks.”
NOTES: Missouri State was picked second in the Valley’s preseason poll but will not advance to the six-team conference tournament. The Bears dropped to 5-7-4 overall and 0-5 in league play. Even if Missouri State wins it final game, the Bears can finish no higher than tied for sixth, with Central Arkansas owning the tiebreaker. ... Pitter’s goal allowed him to tie Jose Gomez for the team lead with 16 points. ... Kallman, Gomez, Jake Brown and Andrew Ribeiro were the seniors honored before the match. ... Creighton closes the regular season Saturday at Evansville.
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