Creighton had a man advantage over its city rivals, and it had the supportive energy of festive home crowd, and it had a stingy persistence to maintain its second-half barrage.
But UNO wasn’t budging.
The Jays flung balls into the box. They attacked down the flanks. They tried corner kick, after corner kick, after corner kick. They weaved quick passes to one another until they found enough space for a scoring window, only to see shots ricochet off a defender's leg or head.
To those 4,096 fans in attendance at Morrison Stadium, it must have seemed that the crosstown showdown, colloquially dubbed the Dodge Street Derby, was destined for a draw. Or at least overtime.
CU senior Luke Haakenson had other ideas Monday. He scored the game-winning goal in the 88th minute to secure a 2-1 victory for Creighton, capping the tense match with a climactic highlight and spoiling the Mavs’ gutsy attempt to preserve the stalemate.
“For me, it’s just staying hungry,” Haakenson said. “It’s always the next play, it’s always the next goal that could come.”
It’s about focus, not frustration, according to Haakenson. He said you can’t get so aggravated that your pace on the attack dips or your inventiveness suffers.
The Jays (3-2-1) had 12 second-half corner kicks. They out-shot UNO 13-2 after the break.
Yet there was Haakenson, jettisoning himself forward for a blistering near-post run in closing minutes – he started on the one edge of the penalty box and sprinted across to opposite side of the goal. Junior Musa Qongo, gliding down the left sideline, found him and sent a low cross into the 6-yard box.
Haakenson did the rest.
“We just wanted to continue to move the ball, and move them, because they were very disciplined,” CU coach Johnny Torres said. “They worked their tails off.”
It was like that from the start.
UNO coach Bob Warming said afterward that he was convinced from kickoff that his squad was poised to snatch a victory Monday. The Mavs (0-4-2) carried out a well-crafted defensive plan, and showed just enough aggressiveness offensively to keep CU from settling in.
They lost forward Diego Gutierrez, a Ralston grad, to an early injury. Yet they still took a 1-0 lead when senior Seth Rinderknecht headed in a high-arching free kick in the 26th minute.
But the match soon turned.
Creighton tied it at 1-1 in the 38th minute. A few seconds later, Mavs’ junior Miguel Gomez was shown a red card after he headbutted a CU player. UNO had to retreat into prevent mode from there.
“When you take one player out against a team as technical as Creighton, you’re going to do a lot of chasing,” Warming said. “It was a tough road.”
The Mavs still nearly found their way – which is why Haakenson’s goal had such a devastating effect. One UNO player stuffed his face into the turf as Haakenson raised both arms and flexed toward the crowd.
It wasn’t long before another red card came. Emotions spilled out after the match – both teams’ players trash-talked their way off the pitch.
Neither side wanted to relent Monday night. But that’s what they both expected.
“No matter what, you’re going to go out and give everything you’ve got for this game,” Haakenson said. “It’s a rivalry. That’s what it is.”
UNO (0-4-2)....................1 0—1
Creighton (3-2-1).............1 1—2
Goals: CU, Trosten, Haakenson; UNO, Rinderknecht.