Unlike last season, the Creighton Bluejays aren’t going to have to wait until the final day of conference play to find out whether they qualify for the Big East tournament.
With three conference matches remaining, the Jays clinched a spot in the six-team tournament by playing Providence to a scoreless draw Saturday in front of a Morrison Stadium crowd of 1,945.
But Creighton coach Elmar Bolowich said the fact they’re in the postseason has little relevance.
“At this point, that should not be enough. That should not be a standard or a measuring stick for us anymore. I think we need to shoot higher,” Bolowich said.
“I think we need to shoot for finishing first.”
The draw keeps the Bluejays unbeaten in the conference, and they lead the Big East by three points over the Friars and Georgetown, which beat Seton Hall 4-0 Saturday to climb into a tie for second.
Providence carried the play for the first 15 minutes, outshooting the Jays 4-0.
But Creighton began to attack more consistently after that and became even more aggressive in the second half after the Friars outshot CU 7-3 in the first half.
Bolowich said both sides were unwilling to give a up a goal, and it resulted in limited offensive opportunities.
“Intense game, I think. Not a whole lot of clear-cut chances. I don’t think the goalkeepers had much to do, but it was a battle for the midfield,” Bolowich said.
“It was a battle for who has control of it. In the first half Providence maybe had a little bit more of that, and in the second half we had a little bit more of that. And in overtime we were just both tired.”
The Jays (9-3-2, 5-0-1 Big East) held a 6-2 shot advantage in the second half and 3-0 in overtime.
Creighton defender Mitch LaGro said the Bluejays changed their tactic in the second half for when he or fellow defender Akeem Ward were in possession on the attacking end.
“I think (Providence) decided to sit back a little more, and also we decided to use the width a little more. We kind of put our wingers wide and built out from there just so we could have two options when Akeem or I get the ball,” LaGro said.
“So using that width kind of spread them out. I think they kind of had to sit back more and that allowed us to advance up the field and get maybe a little more of a chance.”
The change in strategy resulted in a shot on a wide-open goal by Sven Koenig in the 55th minute, but he hooked the ball to the left of the far post.
Koenig also had the best overtime scoring opportunity in the 104th minute with a header on goal off a cross from Ziyad Fares, but Providence keeper Colin Miller was able to come up with the save.
The Friars (7-5-2, 4-1-1) didn’t register a shot after the 53rd minute.
The Jays were without the services of midfielder Kuba Polat, who is tied for fourth on the team in points.
Polat received a yellow card in the 80th minute of Tuesday’s 1-0 loss at Akron for arguing with an official.
Then as time expired in the match less than 10 minutes later, Polat fired the ball at the official and hit him in the back, resulting in a red card and disqualification for Saturday’s contest.
CU remains home and will play Marquette Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Providence (7-5-2, 4-1-1)..........0 0 0 0—0
At Creighton (9-3-2, 5-0-1)........0 0 0 0—0
Shots: PC 9, CU 12. Shots on goal: PC 4, CU 4. Saves: PC, Colin Miller 4. CU, Paul Kruse 4. Fouls: PC, 11. CU, 7. A: 1,945
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No. 25 Ty-Shon Alexander, men's basketball: He could be in store for a breakout season. The Jays are looking for someone to help fill the shoes of Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas. Why not Alexander? Click here to read more.
No. 24 Taryn Jakubowski, women's soccer: She’s usually the hardest-working player on the field, and her evolution as a scorer will be something to watch. The Jays will be relying on her again this season. Click here to read more.
No. 23 Naomi Hickman, volleyball: There’s a vacancy in the middle of Creighton’s alignment, and Hickman would be well suited for the role. Click here to read more.
No. 22 Jacob Epperson, men's basketball: He has quickness, agility and hops. He is still working to add strength. But the ceiling is incredibly high for the Australian. Click here to read the story.
No. 21 Olivia Elger, women's basketball: She had two 20-point games last year. She scored in double figures in eight of the final 13 games. Her 44.2 shooting percentage from 3-point range was tops on the team. Click here for more.
No. 19 Luke Haakenson: The junior midfielder was responsible for one of the most thrilling moments of the year — when he sprinted behind Tulsa’s defense, won a one-on-one battle with the goalkeeper and guided home a game-winner in overtime. Click here to read more.
No. 18 Nate Vontz: His breakout moment might have come this summer. Competing at the Indian Creek Invitational, Vontz set a course record with a 6-under 66 on one day. Click here to read more.
No. 17 Kuba Polat: The sophomore midfielder attempted nine shots last year, recording one goal and four assists. Click here to read more.
No. 16 Mitch Ragan: He produced a 1.97 ERA over his last five outings, striking out 34 in 32 innings. Click here to read more.
No. 15 Mitch Ballock: He averaged 11.6 points per game during the Jays’ final five contests — which was third-best on the team behind Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas. Click here to read more.
No. 14 Kiele Miller: If Creighton is going to build off its second-place Big East finish, it’ll need Miller to carry over her successes to 2019. Click here to read more.
No. 13 Ashley Ishimura: She went 15-5 for CU — losing just once in her final 14 matches. She earned a spot on the All-Big East second team. Click here to read more.
No. 12 Isaac Collins: Collins has spent his summer showing off his skills in the Cape Cod League. He batted .308 (11th-best in the league) during the regular season, leading his team with five stolen bases and finishing second with 27 runs scored. Click here to read more.
No. 11 Ashley Cantu: Cantu scored 45 runs — her rate of 1.05 runs scored per game ranked ninth nationally. Click here to read more.
No. 10 Davion Mintz: He showed flashes of his potential toward the end of his sophomore season, averaging 9.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists his final five games. Click here to read more.
No. 9 Megan Ballenger: She serves, blocks and (occasionally) sets. Ballenger’s hitting percentage (.304) was third on the team last year. Click here to read more.
No. 8 Joel Rydstrand: He is Creighton’s top returning point scorer — that’s largely based on his ability to create chances for others. Click here to read the story.
No. 7 Brittany Witt: The reigning Big East libero of the year will patrol the back row again. Her intangible impact — she always brings high energy and effort — will help the Jays remain on the right track. Click here to read the story.
No. 6 Will Robertson: The Jays will need a slugger at the center of their lineup. Robertson fits the mold. He’s in store for a special 2019 season. Click here to read the story.
No. 5 Jaylyn Agnew: A versatile defender (able to guard multiple positions) and a skilled scorer (she shot 40.1 percent from 3-point range last season). Click here to read more.
No. 4 Martin Krampelj: He averaged 15.2 points and 10.8 rebounds, shooting 66.0 percent from the floor in his first five league games. Click here to read more.
No. 3 Audrey Faber: She had two 30-point games last season, and five of 20-plus. She was sixth in the Big East at 14.8 points per game. Click here to read more.
No. 2 Taryn Kloth: She was at her best at the end of last season, averaging 3.08 kills per set and hitting .329 during the final 10 matches. Click here to read more.
No. 1 Jaali Winters: The program’s all-time kills record is likely to be Winters’ by the end of the season. She’s already fourth in school history. Click here to read the story.