Men’s soccer bested Tulsa 4-3 in a double overtime win on Tuesday night, concluded by a rare free kick.
During the second overtime period, Tulsa keeper Brady Moody missed a back pass from his defender and proceeded to illegally grab it with his hands in the penalty box. Per US Soccer’s Laws of the Game, the handball resulted in a free kick.
The kick was drilled in by senior midfielder Yudai Tashiro from six yards out, past all 11 Tulsa players crowded in the net.
It’s rare this rule is evoked, and when head coach Johnny Torres was asked if he had ever seen such a free kick before, he responded, “no, that was crazy.” Tashiro’s goal comes after he injured his shoulder just 11 days prior against UC-Irvine.
Torres said staff considered redshirting Tashiro, but he insisted on playing this year with his “brothers.”
“He’s got a heart the size of Texas,” Torres said.
Tashiro explained that he played through pain with his shoulder and will continue to do so until he undergoes surgery at the end of the season, but that he draws a determination to play from his teammates.
“I feel like this is my second family,” said Tashiro, who grew up in Tokyo.
Despite the high stakes, Tashiro said he felt little pressure and knew exactly where to shoot. “There’s a huge space up top…so I knew where to hit the ball.”
This is the first time the Bluejays have won in overtime since the 2017 season. That win also came against Tulsa, in a 2-1 OT victory at Morrison Stadium.
The goal was also Tashiro’s first at Morrison. Despite a scoreless first half for Creighton, the Bluejays put together an offensive showing in the second half, scoring three goals in four minutes. One score from sophomore midfielder Daniel Espeleta was flanked by two goals from senior forward Luke Haakenson.
Haakenson’s goals make him the outright team leader in goals with four on the season. His previous two came against UNO and Columbia. He’s one goal away from surpassing his career total of five goals from his past three seasons at Creighton.
Tulsa’s offense kept pace with the Bluejays, scoring three times on 12 shots during regulation.
The Golden Hurricane scored first in the 28th minute, then again in the 75th minute following Creighton’s three-goal burst. An 87th minute goal from Tulsa midfielder Harris Partain brought the match into overtime.
The Bluejays presented a strong second half showing on offense, but Torres felt the team lost focus as the half drew to a close, and was therefore “punished” by Tulsa, who was able to tie the game with less than four minutes remaining.
“I thought that the first 10 minutes of the second half was definitely the brand of soccer that we want to play. Now, can we continue that consistency and try to play that brand of soccer throughout the entire match, rather than 10 minutes of one half,” Torres said.
Rain clouds loomed throughout the match, but the game was able to progress unhindered.
A tornado warning was issued for nearby Pottawattamie County in the final minutes of regular play.
Despite weather concerns, the game drew more than 1,000 fans.
The Bluejays face Villanova, coming off a 1-2-1 stretch, on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Morrison Stadium.