On the first page of content in the 2010 Creighton Men’s Soccer Media Guide, once you flip through a few pages of Morrison Stadium at night packed to the hills with people, you see the one sentence that to many people explains everything that Bluejays soccer is: Creighton appeared in 17 consecutive NCAA Tournaments between 1992 and 2008.
That statement represents a remarkable level of consistency spanning three tenures of two coaches. It is a consistency that led to the creation of the arguably the nation’s best collegiate soccer venue, the aforementioned Morrison Stadium. And it is a consistency shaken to its core during what was one of the more surprising and disappointing seasons in Creighton athletics history in 2009.
In our first of five pieces previewing the 2010 Creighton Bluejays men’s soccer season, WBR recaps the 2009 season and introduces you to the new coaching staff on the Hilltop.
The Bluejays entered the 2009 season as one of a few preseason favorites to advance to the College Cup. Three players — Chris Schuler, Seth Sinovic, and Byron Dacy — were named to the MAC Hermann Trophy watch list. But once the season started, reality sunk in for Creighton soccer fans: this was not to be the season everyone had hoped to see.
The Bluejays opened the season with three straight home matches, going 1-1-1 against Loyola (Ill.), #23 Cal Poly, and Missouri State.
The Jays were 5-2-2 through 9 games heading into an October 14 home match against nationally ranked Drake, but on a drizzly evening CU dropped a conference home game 1-0 to the Bulldogs. CU would go 2-2-3 down the stretch, including a tie against Drake in the final regular season game and then a 3-1 loss in the MVC Tournament. The Bluejays would miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 18 season.
Creighton finished with a 7-4-5 record in what would prove to be Bob Warming’s final season as the Bluejays’ head coach. Warming left CU in late May to take the head coaching position at Penn State, bringing to a close one of the most successful stories in Creighton sports history. He restarted men’s soccer at CU in 1990, and during two different stints as head coach compiled a record of 190-61-34. His teams went to 11 NCAA Tournaments and won 14 combined MVC titles. But just three months away from practice beginning for the 2010 season, CU was without a head coach.
Jamie Clark (Stanford, 1999) // 1st season at CU
That’s when Jamie Clark stepped in. Formerly the head coach at Harvard, Clark became the third Bluejay head coach since the program restarted in 1990. He led the Crimson to two NCAA Tournaments in two seasons as head coach. Prior to his time in Cambridge, Clark was an assistant coach for his father, Bobby, at Notre Dame, where he was part of two more NCAA Tournament teams. Before South Bend, Clark assisted at New Mexico, where his 2005 team reached the College Cup championship match. He was a two-time All-American at Stanford, where he helped the 1998 squad reach the College Cup final.
When asked about his goals for his first Creighton team, Clark wants them to play to their potential.
“We need to reach our potential. We need to be a good as we can be, and all the players need to be on board. If everyone is on board, I think we have a lot of talent to do some good things, but we need to focus on reaching our potential.”
Johnny Torres (Creighton, 2007) // 4th season at CU
Torres, arguably the greatest soccer player in Creighton history, is now the longest tenured coach on the CU staff. With his dynamic personality, his love for Creighton and his familiarity with the program, Torres is a key part of the future of CU soccer.
“He means everything to this program,” Clark said of Torres. “He will be the one that I can point to while talking to any recruits or current players, and say he is the prime example that anything is possible when you play here at CU. He will be my #1 guy, as he is familiar with the program. I will lean on Johnny a lot.”
The two-time national player of the year and Creighton hall of fame performer brings expert technique and hands-on coaching ability to the staff.
Jeff Rowland (New Mexico, 2006) // 1st season at CU
Rowland comes to Omaha after one year as volunteer assistant coach to Clark at Harvard. Rowland and Clark share another connection, as Clark was an assistant coach at New Mexico when Rowland was starring for the Lobos.
A walk-on as a freshman at NMU, Rowland was runner-up for the MAC Hermann Trophy as a senior. He was a two-time All-American and two-time Academic All-American.
Rowland is excited for his time at Creighton.
“I am excited about the city of Omaha and the opportunity at Creighton,” he said. “The stadium is amazing and I am really excited to see a game atmosphere. The people have been amazing.”
Matt Wieland (Creighton, 2006) // 1st season at CU
Michael Krause (Creighton, 2006) // 1st season at CU
Two former Bluejays return to the Morrison Stadium sidelines this fall in student-assistant roles. Wieland returns to Creighton to work toward his master’s degree, and he will serve as Graduate Manager for Clark’s first season at CU. He captained the Creighton men’s soccer team for three years, and his four seasons on the Hilltop represent one of the most successful spans of soccer in school history.
Krause returns to Creighton to finish up his undergraduate degree this semester. He was the 2006 MVC Player of the Year, and is one of only two players in CU history to earn MVC All-Tournament Team accolades three times.
Clark is wasting no time in tackling a return to prominence for the Creighton men’s soccer program. His team faces a brutal schedule in 2010, including games against six nationally ranked teams in many preseason polls. Although he inherited the schedule from the previous staff, he and his staff welcome the challenge.
“Winners want to play the best, and I think all of our guys are very excited about the level of competition we will be facing this season,” Clark said. “I like playing the best; that way you get the best possible experience throughout the season.”
After two wins in exhibition games this August, Clark’s team begins its regular season Wednesday (September 1) at Loyola (Ill.). Check WBR all week as we continue our preview of the 2010 Creighton Bluejays men’s soccer team.