Old Dominion University men’s soccer hosted the 38th annual STIHL classic on Friday, Sept. 13 suffering a 2-1 loss at the hands of the Creighton Blue Jays.
“We had our game plan down, and we executed it very well up until the very end. I thought the boys played incredible, just an unlucky ending for us,” goalkeeper Sean Stowe said.
There is a little history between the two teams. ODU upset Creighton in front of their home crowd in their last face off.
“That was huge for us last year and we wanted to show everybody we could do it again, especially all of our guys that graduated,” Stowe said.
The Blue Jays came into the contest as the number one ranked team in the country, creating a playoff like atmosphere in front of a very spirited crowd.
“Coming in, we knew the atmosphere was going to be good especially against a highly ranked team. Seeing a crowd like that really gives us a lift, we love these fans and their support,” ODU head coach Alan Dawson said.
Coach Dawson and his team tried not to let the number one ranking distract them or affect the usual preparations.
“For us this week was more of a reflection on our loss to William and Mary. The goal was to focus not so much on Creighton but us as a team and what we can do to get better,” Dawson said.
Dawson is very familiar with Creighton’s team and staff, contributing to a fast start for the Monarchs.
“He knows their coach very well and their style of play and we were able to adapt very quickly,” Stowe said.
The Monarchs hard work and preparation showed in the first half. They demonstrated great ball control and created opportunities early on.
Controlling the possession allowed the Monarchs to generate pressure and a lot of offense, outshooting the Blue Jays 11-5 in the first half.
“It almost looked like a rivalry game out there; both teams played an aggressive game. You could see how badly both of us wanted it,” Stowe said.
Creighton’s aggressive play backfired at the end of the first half. A foul in the box led to a goal on a penalty kick by junior forward Ivan Militar.
Going into the second half, ODU looked to keep the pressure on. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays were able to capitalize on a penalty kick as well. It came just 13 minutes in to the second half.
“That was a tough for us because we knew we had outplayed them up to that point. Simply we had a great first half, they played better in the second half,” Dawson said.
At the end of regulation, the teams were dead-locked in 1-1 tie, neither team wanting to give an inch. The Monarchs finished with 20 shots overall and 6 on goal.
“I think what really hurt us was not being able to get as many subs out there as we needed to, the guys were very tired at the end of regulation,” Dawson said.
At 116 minutes, with just four minutes left in extra time, Bruno Castro gathered a rebound and put it in the back of the net giving Creighton their fourth victory of the season.
“It really was a great game from both sides. We really wanted this one tonight and it just didn’t fall our way,” Stowe said.
Stowe finished with three saves, two crucial ones coming at the end of regulation to force extra time.
At the end, Dawson was very pleased with the effort his squad put forth.
“I know I’ve got a team with a lot of heart and a lot of fight who play to the last whistle. I take a lot of pride in this team they deserved better than a loss,” he said.
Not much time to think about this one for the team. The Monarchs will face Central Florida on Sunday, Sept. 15.
“We just have to shake this one off, rest up, and stay loose,” Stowe said.
Dawson does not want his team to lose focus.
“We expended a lot of energy against Creighton all the guys need to make sure they stay loose. We are 1-2 right now we need to re-focus and find a way to get a win,” Dawson said.