Creighton set itself up for some Saturday night soccer disappointment against Villanova.
The Bluejays didn't take care of some chances early in the match, then saw the Wildcats' Dylan Renna get the game-winning goal with 32 seconds left in overtime.
Renna came up with a loose ball in the box before unleashing a shot from about 15 yards that beat Creighton goalkeeper Alex Bolowich. It was only the third attempt the Wildcats put on goal, but it was enough to produce the win before 2,789 at Morrison Stadium.
“We needed to be more clever and take advantage of our opportunities,” Creighton coach Elmar Bolowich said. “If you don't, you deserve to lose.”
The defeat was Creighton's third straight, all by 1-0 decisions, and dropped the Bluejays to 6-5-2 and 2-2-1 in the Big East. Villanova improved to 7-6-1 and 2-3-0.
The Wildcats limited Creighton to four shots on goal, and goalkeeper Andrew Weakly turned away each. His last save was a spectacular stop on a header by Eric Miller about seven minutes into the overtime period.
“Creighton is a great team, one of the best in the country,” Villanova coach Tom Carlin said. “We knew we were going to have to defend a lot, and we did. We were hoping we could keep ourselves alive to find a moment like we did at the end there.”
Creighton outshot the Wildcats 20-13 and held a 9-5 edge in corner kicks, but the Bluejays couldn't get the goal to break themselves out of a scoring drought. Creighton has not scored since the 50:29 mark of an Oct. 5 win over Xavier. That's a span of 319 minutes and three seconds.
“Soccer can be a very cruel sport,” Miller said. “Destructive soccer can be effective for people who like to watch a passing game. They did a good job of breaking up our attacks and then playing the long ball to keep us at bay.
“We didn't take advantage of our chances, and they took advantage of their one. We know we're not getting the bounces right now, but you make your own luck at some point.”
In an attempt to generate some offense, Elmar Bolowich moved Miller from the back row into the midfield. The junior from Woodbury, Minn., had five of the Bluejays' shots, including the near game-winner toward the end of the match.
“That's the way soccer goes,” Miller said. “You make the plays or you don't make them. We didn't make the plays and they did. Hats off to them.”
Creighton's Timo Pitter also had five shots, one on goal, in what his coach said was a strong game by the sophomore forward.
“He was our best player today,” Bolowich said. “The energy he brought and the desire he had was good. Unfortunately, he had nobody to play with.”
Creighton is 1-4-1 in its last six matches and has scored just two goals, both of which came in the win over Xavier. The scoring slump has left the Bluejays with little margin for error: They have allowed just four goals in those six matches, and each one has produced a loss.
“This is not pleasant, and we all suffer from it,” Bolowich said. “But what are you going to do? It is what it is. We just have to keep trying to get better. We have to be sharper in training and sharper in our execution in games.
“It takes a certain mental toughness to make sure you don't get off the path. We'll see how we bounce back.”
The loss dropped Creighton to sixth in the league standings, just one point ahead of Villanova and Seton Hall. Villanova has won its last three matches, including conference wins over St. John's and Creighton.
“For us to put a string of three games together,” Carlin said, “is a huge confidence builder for us, especially with who we did it against.”
Villanova (7-6-1, 2-3) ............................ 0 0 1—1
At Creighton (6-5-2, 2-2-1) ............................ 0 0 0—0
Goal: 1, VU, Renna (unassisted), 99:28. Shots: VU 13, CU 20. Saves: VU, Weakly, 4; CU, Bolowich 2. Fouls: VU 10, CU 7.