This week’s edition of Futbol Friday finds both Creighton soccer teams coming off wins in their previous matches.
For Jamie Clark’s Bluejays, a tough double overtime loss to nationally ranked SMU last Friday put an initial damper on what Clark called his team’s best 45 minutes of play all season (the first half against the Mustangs). But CU battled back to beat Dartmouth in overtime two days later, and have spent the past week getting ready for tonight’s game against Wisconsin.
Bruce Erickson’s Bluejays haven’t lost since the first Friday in September, and are currently on a 5-game winning streak. At 7-2-2 on the season, Erickson’s team begins conference play this Sunday at Indiana State.
WBR caught up with both head coaches to talk about last week’s games and their teams’ upcoming matches.
White & Blue Review: You will be looking for your sixth win in a row when you face Indiana State Sunday. What has clicked with the team in the past few weeks?
Bruce Erickson: There were a number of things that needed to improve, including the key attackers needing to get more involved and be where they needed to be on the field to capitalize on some chances. We moved Emily [Orbell] to the midfield to get her around the ball more, and we all needed to work harder. So I would say a few physical adjustments and positions changes really helped us turn the corner.
WBR: What has been the most positive part, aside from the wins, for you and the team as a result of the win streak?
BE: I think the fact that we are playing better and playing harder. We have come to realize that playing harder always comes before playing better, not the other way around.
WBR: Has there been a player or players that have really stood out to you these last few weeks that have really stepped it up?
BE: Erin Gunther has had a good season so far, including two goals in the past week. She is the best utility player we have and has the ability to play anywhere.
WBR: Missouri Valley Conference play begins with your road trip to Terre Haute. How important is your MVC season?
BE: It is what we play for; it matters most. We need to focus on playing one game at a time, and we need to play our best and hardest every game. In addition to that, we need all the support we can get from the fans this season, as our home games will be very important and our fans can really make a difference.
White & Blue Review: You guys had a tough weekend of games since we last talked, how did the team handle the first loss of the season against SMU on Friday?
Jamie Clark: For a minute there I thought some of the guys were on the brink of collapse. If we were to have won that game, we would have been over the moon, but that fact is we played the best 45 minutes of the year the first half and the worst 45 the second half. The guys were fine by the time we left the locker room, as we know we were in that game.
WBR: You mentioned last week that you were not a big fan of neutral site games, as they take away from the game atmosphere. Do you think that played a factor in the way the team played over the weekend?
JC: No, we need to play our best no matter where we are. It is a mental thing when you are at a neutral site or even on the road. You need to be determined, focused, and want to win.
WBR: There were two penalties late in the game, including one that led to SMU’s game-winning; were those calls close or deserving?
JC: Both calls were legit calls.
WBR: Tell us a little bit about the team you play tonight, Wisconsin.
JC: They are a better team than their record indicates. They play a very methodical style of play and hold the ball for long periods. Because of that, they have not allowed many goals against this season. On the other hand, they usually do not commit a lot of guys to the attack, so when they do lose possession, they have 7 or 8 guys already back on defense.
WBR: From some video that we have been able to see from your road games, and the play at Morrison, it seems that Creighton’s games have been a bit more physical this season than last year.
JC: The physicality of our opponents comes from having pretty talented players on our side. We play a physical game as well, but we try and focus more on our finesse and skill. Some of the teams we have played, like UC Santa Barbara for instance, are just physical teams traditionally. We like to be physical, and I certainly don’t want the guys to get pushed around, but we need to keep playing our style, especially against that type of competition.