Seven NCAA tournament teams highlight a difficult first schedule for new Creighton men's soccer head coach Jamie Clark this season.
The schedule, released Thursday, includes one of the most difficult non-conference slates in recent Bluejay history.
“My philosophy is to schedule the best teams,” Clark said. “I feel fortunate to walk into a schedule that is full of top-25 teams at home and on the road. The best players always want to play against the best teams and we'll do that this year and continue to do that in years to come.”
In addition to tournament teams Drake and Missouri State from the Missouri Valley Conference, five non-conference opponents reached the postseason last year, including national runner-up Akron, 2006 champion UC Santa Barbara and seven-time national champion Indiana.
After a pair of exhibition contests, including Clark's home debut against Hastings College on Aug. 27, the Bluejays open the regular-season on the road at Loyola Chicago on Sept. 1. Clark's first regular-season home match at Morrison Stadium is Sept. 4 against UNC Greensboro.
The Jays then head to UC Santa Barbara, site of this season's College Cup on Sept. 7. The Gauchos won a pair of tournament games in 2009 and won the national title in 2006.
After a home match with DePaul on Sept. 11, the Bluejays play in the Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic in Peoria, Ill., Sept. 17 through 19. The Bluejays take on traditional soccer power SMU and Dartmouth, a 2009 tournament team.
The Bluejays open a four-game home stand by hosting Wisconsin on Sept. 24, followed by a Valley match against Eastern Illinois and games against Tulsa, a 2009 quarterfinalist and Indiana, playing in Omaha for the first time.
The next four matches find the Jays on the road, starting at Evansville on Oct. 16, followed with Valley games against Drake, newcomer Central Arkansas and a non-conference game with national runner-up Akron. The Zips, who earned the top-seed in the tournament, lost the national title match in penalty kicks and finished 2009 with a 23-1-1 mark.
The Jays conclude the regular season with games against another Valley newcomer, SIU Edwardsville, Missouri State and Bradley.
The Valley Tournament will return to a six-team field in 2010, after four teams qualified in 2009. The quarterfinals will be played on Nov. 10, followed by the semifinals on Nov. 12 and the championship on Nov. 14 in Peoria.
21: at Denver (Ex.), Denver, 8 p.m. 27: Hastings College (Ex.), Morrison Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
1: at Loyola Chicago, Chicago, 7 p.m. 4: UNC Greensboro, Morrison Stadium, 7 p.m. 7: at UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, Calif., 9 p.m. 11: DePaul, Morrison, 7 p.m. 17: vs. SMU (Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic), Peoria, Ill. 5 p.m. 19: vs. Dartmouth (Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic), Peoria, Ill. Noon 24: Wisconsin, Morrison, 7 p.m.
1: Eastern Illinois, Morrison, 7 p.m. 5: Tulsa, Morrison, 7 p.m. 9: Indiana, Morrison, 6 p.m. 16: at Evansville, Evansville, Ind., 7:30 p.m. 20: at Drake, Des Moines, 7 p.m. 23: at Central Arkansas, Conway, Ark., 2 p.m. 27: at Akron, Akron, Ohio, 6:30 p.m. 30: SIU Edwardsville, Morrison, 7 p.m.
3: Missouri State, Morrison, 7 p.m. 6: Bradley, Morrison, Noon 10: Valley Quarterfinals, Peoria, Ill., TBA 12: Valley Semifinals, Peoria, Ill., TBA 14: Valley Championship, Peoria, Ill., TBA