Creighton freshman Skylar Heinrich summed up her four-goal onslaught with about the same amount of astonishment as the Eastern Michigan defenders must have felt after watching her repeatedly bolt by them Sunday afternoon.
You don’t step on the field in your fifth collegiate appearance expecting to equal a school record.
Then again, the dynamic rookie did approach this match with a renewed sense of determination. Aggravation lingered because she missed a few good chances Friday. Heinrich wasn’t in the starting lineup Sunday — coach told her to analyze the opening moments of the match “with a purpose.”
So she had a plan when she subbed in.
“This is going to be my game,” she thought to herself. “I want to be the difference-maker.”
The fireworks — er, Skylarworks — began right after that.
Heinrich’s four goals were the most in a match by any Creighton player in 19 years. She’s the first freshman to achieve the feat.
The Elkhorn graduate broke a 1-1 tie with her first strike and used her last score to secure what ended as a 5-2 win over Eastern Michigan (1-3-1).
“It was kind of crazy,” Heinrich said.
Because it basically all happened at once.
The game entered the 23rd minute when a teammate’s shot smacked off the crossbar and landed at her feet. She tapped it home to put the Jays ahead 2-1.
She scored again 39 seconds later. Then again in the 32nd minute. Heinrich’s fourth came in the 36th minute, when she chased down a well-placed pass and one-timed a shot through the legs of the keeper.
“It’s pretty special when you’re a freshman and you can score four goals,” Creighton coach Ross Paule said.
Heading into Sunday’s action, four Division I players had netted four or more in match this season.
And Heinrich did it all during a 15-minute span.
She’s up to six goals already — which is more than the total for CU’s goal-scoring leader each of the past two years. She’s one-third of the way to the school’s single-season mark (18).
The production helped Creighton jump to a 4-1 start, its best record after five matches since Paule’s first season in 2015.
“She just changes the game,” senior Taryn Jakubowski said.
It starts with Heinrich’s quickness. She’s often igniting the afterburners while defenders are still plotting their countermeasures.
On Sunday, she blitzed toward a center back and stole the ball before it could be cleared — leading to her second goal. She sprinted right by the backline on her fourth.
You can position her in the middle, Paule said, and put pressure on the heart of a team’s defense. Or you can play her along the sideline, where she’ll have more one-on-one opportunities.
Her explosiveness shows up regardless.
“She is stupid fast,” senior defender Jaylin Bosak said. “People don’t recognize that coming out of the back. It’s just crazy how athletic she is, getting around the ball and just looking forward.”
But that’s where Heinrich thinks she can improve. She wants to teach herself how to abruptly transition out of supersonic mode — so when she gets the ball at her feet in the scoring zone, she’s not rushed but able to calmly finish.
Heinrich wasn’t able to do it against Iowa State on Friday. She was responsible for the winner in the 88th minute, but also had three or four other opportunities to put the ball into the back of the net.
The misses nagged at her. She didn’t want to let similar chances go to waste Sunday.
So Heinrich watched from the bench and thought through a strategy. She said she saw the Eastern Michigan players trying to hold possession and play through the middle of the pitch. That left the Eagles vulnerable to aggressive pressing, she thought. She figured there’d be lots of space behind the backline, too.
Then she checked in at the 19th minute. And soon came the milestone afternoon, which she still was trying to process afterward.
“You kind of just stand there and you’re like, ‘OK, that just happened?’ ” Heinrich said.
The first chapter of a historic Creighton career, perhaps.
Eastern Michigan (1-3-1) 2 0—2
At Creighton (4-1-0) 5 0—5
Goals: EM, McNeill, Shira. CU, Bosak, Heinrich 4.