An early goal in the second half was enough for the struggling Akron Zips to get a much-needed 1-0 victory over the No. 8 Creighton Bluejays in a nonconference match at FirstEnergy Stadium in Akron, Ohio on Tuesday night.
The Bluejays dropped to 9-3-1 on the season, while the Zips improved to 6-5-2 with Tuesday night’s result.
The disappointing loss against Akron was Creighton’s third consecutive match on the road. In their first two matches of the three-game road trip, the Jays defeated Big East foes St. John’s and Xavier, each by a score of 3-1.
The Zips scored the only goal of the match less than five minutes into the second half. In the 49th minute, senior defender Morgan Hackworth headed a cross from the left side of the area into the back of the net past the outstretched arms of Creighton’s freshman goalkeeper Paul Kruse.
After falling behind, the Bluejays managed five shots with only two being on target. Because of Creighton’s lackluster response, Akron finished the match with a 14-10 shot advantage.
The Zips also managed six shots on target in the match. The Bluejays were only able to get half as many on target in the same time period.
The Jays returned to action following their three-match road trip with a 0-0 draw against Big East rivals Providence on Saturday night at Morrison Stadium.
Despite both teams sitting atop the Big East standings at that point, both were looking to get back on their feet.
Providence, just like Creighton, lost an out-of-conference game against Brown earlier in the week.
Creighton moved to 5-0-1 (16 points) in league play and 9-3-2 overall, while Providence pushed its Big East record to 4-1-1 (13 points) and its overall record to 7-5-2.
With the result of the game, the Jays also kept their lead at the top of the conference standings to three points.
The point was also enough to ensure a top-six finish in the Big East standings for the Bluejays, thus securing their place in the Big East postseason tournament.
Kruse made four huge saves in a match that turned out to be his seventh shutout of the season.
The Creighton keeper recorded three of his four saves in the first half to prevent Providence from taking an early lead.
The saves proved vital as the visitors outshot the Bluejays 7-3 through the first 45-minutes.
The Jays completely turned the match around in the second half by dominating possession and firing off six shots in comparison to Providence’s two.
Creighton was so dominant in possession that Providence was unable to get a shot off after the 53rd minute of the match.
In the 60th minute, the Jays had their best chance to score in regulation when freshman midfielder Daniel Espeleta and senior forward Sven Koenig both fired shots from inside the area, but they were blocked by Providence defenders.
The Jays had one more chance to score a coveted goal during the second half right before time ran out.
Junior midfielder Tor Trosten launched a shot from outside the area that was blocked by a defender in the 88th minute.
Creighton continued its second half dominance in the overtime periods logging three shots and dominating possession.
This dominance was unable to deliver the crucial goal and the match ended in a 0-0 deadlock.
Going winless over the past week, the Jays’ performances caused them to slip down to No. 19 in the most recent United Soccer Coaches Poll.
That’s a regression of 11 spots from their ranking a week earlier.
Creighton returns to the pitch on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. as they host Big East rivals Marquette at Morrison Stadium. The Jays then head out to Chicago to face DePaul on Saturday at 1 p.m.