Bluejays Dominate in 3-0 Win vs. UMKC
The Bluejays will enter Big East play with a little momentum after back-to-back 3-0 wins at Morrison Stadium against non-conference competition. Tuesday night’s performance against the UMKC Kangaroos featured a varied offensive display from three of Creighton’s forwards; Myles Englis, Ricky Lopez-Espin and Riggs Lennon. Each one popped up with a goal, each one better than the next.
The game started much like the previous one against Penn, with the two teams easing into the game before a gradual CU offensive build-up. The Creighton onslaught began in the 12th minute when Lopez-Espin took a quick turn in the box only to loop his right footed effort wide of UMKC’s Filippo Errico’s goal. It was an early warning shot by the Jays and a sign of things to come from Lopez-Espin, who looked lively all game.
Creighton continued to control possession after the match settled. UMKC’s only sustained possession came from counter attacks led by the skill of Pandelis Popgeorgiev and the pace of Eric McWoods. The best chances the ‘Roos created were of the free-kick variety, though. Giacomo Caruso tested Creighton senior goalkeeper Alex Kapp in the 20th minute with a well-struck shot that Kapp saved. The save was quickly followed up by a Creighton free-kick, which Joel Rydstrand took before Errico saved comfortably.
The teams traded half-chances and minimal goal scoring opportunities until Lopez-Espin really started to get into the mix by making himself available in dangerous areas outside of the UMKC penalty box later in the first half. The deadlock was broken in the 34th minute when Ricardo Perez received a nice pass on the right edge of the box before slotting back to Englis near the penalty spot, who calmly finished past Errico to put the Jays in front 1-0. Just like against Penn, one goal immediately led to the next when the Bluejays made it 2-0 just four minutes later.
Lopez-Espin gathered a loose ball in UMKC’s third of the field before taking a few dribbles to his right and firing past Errico near the half-circle. It was a just reward for the forward from Miami. He had been dangerous the entire first half and his quality showed in the second goal, with neat little touches to bring the ball past his defender before firing across his body and into the bottom left-hand corner of UMKC’s goal.
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Creighton continued to find open space in the second half. In the 54th minute, defender Akeem Ward sent Englis through on the right flank with a great pass before Englis’s low cross went invitingly past an open UMKC goal with nobody there to tap in. UMKC’s best opportunity the entire game came minutes later. Popgeorgiev set his sights at Creighton’s goal from a free-kick just 25 yards out. The Hungarian sent Kapp sprawling to his left where he had to fully stretch to meet the shot with his palm and turn it out for a UMKC corner.
The remainder of the game was played almost entirely on UMKC’s half, with Creighton sending shot after shot at Errico’s goal. The Italian was up to many of the challenges, sending a blast from Noah Franke over the top of his crossbar midway through the second half. In total, Errico endured 29 shots from Creighton, saving nine of them. On another day, perhaps the Jays score more.
The play of the game, however, came in the 67th minute when Creighton earned a free-kick roughly 30 yards from UMKC’s goal. Bluejay players huddled and lurked near the ball, discussing who would take the shot. Lennon obliged and took the quick free-kick and surprised Errico, who saw Lennon’s effort travel past him and into the back of his net, making it 3-0 Creighton.
The Bluejays saw out the rest of the game with substitutions and more offense, tiring Errico out, who kept the game at 3-0. The business-like, yet entertaining performance came at the delight of head coach Elmar Bolowich.
“First you have to take into consideration that UMKC had a very, very young team,” said the Bluejay head coach. “So it was maybe a little easier for us in that regard. But I was very pleased for us because all three of our forwards scored goals and that was definitely a positive.”
Speaking about Lopez-Espin to White and Blue Review after the game, coach Bolowich had this to say, “He plays with intensity and was very dangerous. That’s what we continue to talk to him about, being more assertive in and around the box. Today he had multiple shots, creative multiple scoring opportunities and I thought he was very busy.”
When asked about what kind of offense fans can expect from the team moving forward, Bolowich was frank, “I don’t care about the number of shots. I just care about the ones that go in. So if you have only six shots and four go in, that’s better than 26 shots and three goals.”
The Bluejays enter Big East play with a 3-1-1 record and will face the Seton Hall Pirates on Saturday night at 7 p.m. Bolowich knows it will be a tougher test than UMKC. “They will be a little bit more veteran than this team (UMKC). They have a couple new players. They’ve won a few games already this year on the road and they’re feeling it, so it will be a big test for us.”
You can catch the recap of Saturday’s game against the Pirates here on White and Blue Review.
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