Story by Will Thornton
The Drake men’s soccer team squared off against former Missouri Valley Conference competitor and longtime rival Creighton University on Wednesday, but fell in a disappointing 2-0 away loss.
The Bluejays maintained considerable pressure on the Bulldogs’ defense throughout the first half and earned a corner kick during the 16th minute.
Sophomore Creighton midfielder Timo Pitter took the set piece, which found its way into the Bulldogs’ penalty box and was nodded into goal by fellow sophomore defender Eric DeJulio to give the Bluejays the lead.
Drake had a tough time leaving its half for most of the first period and only managed to put two shots on goal, compared to Creighton’s patient and consistent attack that registered six shots in the half and forced three saves from Drake’s redshirt freshman keeper Darrin MacLeod.
“We didn’t get too much time to really put pressure on their defense,” said redshirt junior Drake midfielder Jarred Arde. “They were pressuring us well, and we had a tough time breaking it down and getting out of it.”
The second half proved to be nearly the same story, as the Bluejays continued their methodical attacking to the detriment of the Bulldog defense.
Creighton’s second goal came in the 57th minute when junior midfielder Jose Ribas played in a cross from the left wing that fell to the feet of redshirt sophomore Christian Blandon, who knocked it past MacLeod and increased the Bluejays’ lead to two goals.
Drake put in another two shots in the second half to finish with a 13-4 deficit in shots behind Creighton’s steady offense.
Creighton came into the tilt having been ranked throughout the season among the Top-25 Division I NCAA teams in the nation and showed its merit against the Bulldogs on Wednesday.
“They’re definitely a very good team,” said redshirt sophomore defender Alec Bartlett. “They have good players, a good coach and a great environment to play in.”
Bartlett attended Creighton his freshman year, where he was redshirted. When coaches changed following the 2011 season, Bartlett found a more suitable arrangement with Drake and Bulldogs’ coach Sean Holmes.
“I was recruited by the coach who led Creighton to the NCAA Final Four in the 2011 season ,but once he resigned and was replaced, I found out there wasn’t really a plan to get me much time the next year or two,” Bartlett said. “I considered just staying and finishing school there, but Coach Holmes called me up that year and told me how he could use me on the team.”
Holmes said he felt the midweek fixture left more to be desired but ultimately showed the worth of the Creighton roster.
“I think this is the difference, ultimately, between teams that aspire to be in the Top-25 and teams that are in the Top-25,” said Holmes in a Drake athletics press release. “Despite their record, you can see why their RPI is so strong. They’ve played so many good people, they played with confidence and they played with technical cleanliness.”
Drake finished its out-of-conference play on Sunday with an away game at the University of Illinois-Chicago. The Bulldogs finish the season with their final MVC face-off away to Central Arkansas University on Friday.