The Creighton Bluejays men’s soccer team begins regular season play this weekend. Ahead of the season opener, WBR will preview each position for the nationally ranked Bluejays. Today, we look at the attack for Elmar Bolowich’s first CU squad.
Creighton enters the 2011 season with a solid mix of returning players and newcomers and some high expectations. A preseason top 10 team nationally, the Bluejays look to build on their NCAA Tournament run from a year ago that ended in a second round shootout loss to SMU. First year head coach Elmar Bolowich will be charged with leading one of the best collegiate soccer programs in the nation.
Bolowich inherits an experienced attack, led by senior Ethan Finlay. He won the MVC Player of the Year award in 2010 and earned second-team All-American recognition from NSCAA. That followed a sophomore season that saw him earn first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference recognition and a freshman year during which he made the Valley’s All-Freshman team.
Finlay has repeatedly shown improvement, culminating in a junior season during which he scored 34 points and netted 15 goals — one more than his goal total from 2008 and 2009 combined. He has 29 career goals, good for sixth all time at CU. He has been a constant force up top, and multiple national media outlets recognize the opportunity he has to have a special season in 2011. Top Drawer Soccer named Finlay the nation’s top pro prospect among college seniors. After being a semifinalist for the award last year, Finlay is on the preseason Watch List for the MAC Hermann Trophy.
He didn’t play in Creighton’s two exhibition matches last weekend, favoring an injury. But look for Finlay to make an impact this season, as he climbs up the Bluejays soccer record books.
Joining Finlay up top will be junior Dion Acoff. A perfect partner for Finlay, Acoff lead the MVC last season with 10 assists. He finished 11th in the NCAA in assists per game and 12th in total assists. He earned first-team All-Valley accolades in 2010, after being named MVC Freshman of the Year in 2009.
Acoff’s speed and ability to feed his teammates makes him deadly on the attack. He is a key component of Creighton’s efforts to make another run in the NCAA Tournament.
Joining Finlay and Acoff is the steady senior Kris Clark. He will bring consistency and multiple abilities to the 4-3-3 formation. Clark scored 13 points, with 4 goals and 5 assists in 2010 — he ranked third on the team in all three categories.
Liam Kelly will look to add to his success in his freshman campaign where he player in 18 matches off the bench and was named to the MVC All-Freshman team. He was able to make a number of contributions on the pitch last season and his experience will be valuable as the season wears on and there is a need for fresh legs. Kelly has a good head for the game, a good touch, and great vision.
Looking to make an impression on the attack as well will be Aaron Rygiel, a transfer from Georgia Perimeter. If his success with the Jaguars is any indication, Rygiel should fit right in with the Creighton attack. The second-team All-Region honoree posted 38 points last season, with 14 goals and 10 assists.