If it is possible to have a shootout where the match ends in a 1-1 draw, then Thursday night’s women’s soccer game at Morrison Stadium fits the description. The Creighton Bluejays welcomed the Kangaroos of the University of Missouri-Kansas City to Omaha in hopes of pitching their first shutout of the season. Instead, the Jays (2-5-2) and ‘Roos (2-3-3) combined for 49 shots and 17 corner kicks in 110 minutes of fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action. In the end, two different halves and 20 minutes of overtime were not enough to decide a victor.
Creighton was on the attack from the very beginning of the match. Their speed, dribbling, and passing kept UMKC a step behind the action for the first 45 minutes. Not long into the match, freshman forward Jill Richgels found junior midfielder Kelsey O’Donnell wide open in the middle of the field. O’Donnell took one dribble to her right and fired a 30-footer past UMKC freshman goalkeeper Nina Tzianos to give CU a 1-0 lead in just the 12th minute of the match. The goal was O’Donnell’s second of the season.
UMKC never got into a rhythm offensively in the first half. They played east to west most of the half and rarely challenged Bluejay senior stopper Katie Jo Swanson. However, the Jays were unable to capitalize on many great scoring opportunities thanks to Tzianos’ efforts. Their best chance to increase the lead before halftime came in the 39th minute when Tzianos dove to intercept a great crossing pass by forward Lauren Cingoranelli. Despite only scoring the one goal, CU went into the locker room with a ton of momentum thanks to their relentless attack.
The second half picked up right where the first half ended as Creighton continued to dominate possession for the initial 10 minutes. Then, almost as if the two teams switched jerseys without anyone noticing, UMKC came alive. The Kangaroos were suddenly faster, suddenly attacking, and suddenly stealing the momentum away from the Bluejays. With the tide officially turned, UMKC tied the contest in the 62nd minute. Star junior forward Taylor Bare took a shot that deflected off Richgels and headed toward the CU net. Swanson dove and deflected the ball off the post, but ‘Roos sophomore midfielder Allison Schau was waiting for the rebound. She easily tied the match as Swanson was unable to prevent the goal.
“I just saw the first ball ricochet off of one our players, go to the post, and then I couldn’t get up fast enough for the shot,” said Swanson about the game-tying goal.
Each team had chances to break the tie. In the 74th minute, the Richgels-O’Donnell tandem had seemingly struck again when O’Donnell headed Richgels’ crossing pass into the net. The celebration never got started, though, as referee Chris Greer called O’Donnell offsides on the play.
O’Donnell was in disbelief after the call, saying after the game.
“I didn’t think I was offsides. My defender was in front of me, but there is no way to change his [Greer’s] mind or anything. Even though it got called back I feel like we should have put more [shots] away.”
Head Coach Bruce Erickson agreed with O’Donnell.
“I thought she was on, but it’s one we’ll have to take a look at. It certainly made a difference in the game, but there were probably two or three other golden opportunities.”
UMKC soon felt the same frustration when Bare’s apparent go-ahead goal in the 83rd minute was also waved off because she was offsides.
Both goalkeepers were rock solid for the remainder of regulation and the two overtime periods. Swanson and Tzianos set career-highs in saves with 13 and 10, respectively. For Swanson, it is the second straight game where she has set a career best, and the fourth game this season where she has made at least nine stops. While her performance is impressive, Coach Erickson is hoping his goalkeeper won’t have to bear such a heavy burden each game.
“For her to face 26 shots is just not good enough. I think that was more of a midfield issue. I thought they picked us apart, especially #7 [Alyssa Elver]. She caused us a lot of problems. We’ll tighten that up a little bit, and we’ll get after South Dakota State next Wednesday.”
A draw was certainly a disappointing result for the Jays considering how many chances they had. In their prior three matches entering last night’s game, the Jays managed just 22 shots and seven corner kicks. Against UMKC they took 23 shots and 10 corner kicks.
“In 110 minutes, probably 5 or 10 of it was even, then maybe 20 minutes of it they won. Unfortunately, in that 20 minutes we conceded a goal, conceded a couple of chances, and just couldn’t find the net,” said Erickson after the game.
The Jays have two more games before the start of conference play. They will next welcome South Dakota State to Morrison Stadium on Wednesday, September 19, at 6 p.m.
Game Notes: Freshman Jill Richgels notched her team-leading third assist of the season in the first half… Senior Katie Jo Swanson made a career-high 13 saves in the game. With at least five more games to go she is now just 26 saves away from the all-time Morrison Stadium single-season record… This was first time in four meetings all-time that Creighton has failed to defeat UMKC… The final attendance was 258.