Creighton’s men’s soccer players took the field Saturday with every intention to win, but they picked up even more motivation once they heard about the final score of another match out east.
St. John’s had upset Georgetown, the team in second place in the league standings.
And suddenly, as they assembled at halftime, the Jays realized they could actually clinch a Big East title right there on that Saturday — as long as they could finish off DePaul.
Sign up for World-Herald news alerts
Be the first to know when news happens. Get the latest breaking headlines sent straight to your inbox.
It was a chance they couldn’t waste. But those final 45 minutes sure weren’t easy.
“We were struggling a little bit,” junior defender Julius Fohr said. “You try to just focus on your game and try to win your game. In the end, we did.”
CU (11-3-2, 7-0-1) held on for a 2-1 win over the Blue Demons and clinched its second conference title since joining the Big East. Creighton’s other regular-season league crown came in 2014.
The bench players rushed the field after the final whistle — a few brought some water bottles with them to joyously spray about. The team celebrated with hugs and high-fives.
The Jays had set the goal in the spring, when the coaches were challenging the team to be mentally tougher and to play with more passion. They reinforced their objectives when they gathered early this summer — the players-only practices before the preseason helped develop a unified purpose.
They were faced with some midweek disappointments (losing to Denver and Akron), but they suppressed the disappointment and reset in time for another league test on the weekend.
“It’s a big accomplishment for us, but it’s just one step toward a bigger goal,” Fohr said. “That was our first goal. We achieved it. But now we focus on Wednesday. And then the Big East tournament.”
There’s still plenty at stake when No. 14 Creighton hosts Georgetown (9-4-3, 5-2-1) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The Jays (ranked No. 26 in the RPI) are still looking to boost their postseason résumé. It would be a point of pride to finish league play without a loss — the Hoyas’ 9-0 record in 2015 marks the only time a team has completed conference action unbeaten since the new Big East was formed.
Bottom line is there’s still more work to do.
“We can think, all right, we’ve got something now — but let’s build off of this,” senior defender Akeem Ward said. “We’ve accomplished one of the goals that we wanted to accomplish. It shows that we’re doing the right things, day in and day out. But we’re not done yet. This is a good first step.”
1 of 23
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. 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.