HOOVER, Ala. — After Creighton was eliminated from the 2011 College Cup, part of the difficulty in coping with that defeat for coach Elmar Bolowich’s program was knowing that so many standouts had played their last match for the Bluejays.
Creighton again came one game short of the men’s soccer national championship match this year, falling 1-0 against Indiana on Friday night in the College Cup semifinals at Regions Park.
Both outcomes are tough to stomach, but the silver lining for Bolowich and the Bluejays is that they have plenty of positives to build on — and a good amount of returning talent — looking ahead to 2013.
“At the end, I think we had about five or six freshmen on the field,” said Bolowich, who guided the Bluejays to their first back-to-back College Cup appearances during his first two years at Creighton. “They will learn from this experience and take that with them. It hurts right now, but they are young players. They are only 18 years old. I’m glad they had that shot. I think we showed pretty well, for having so many young players in our lineup.”
That’s not to say that Bolowich wasn’t aching Friday night for his seniors — a group that included first-team All-America selections Andrew Ribeiro and Jose Gomez. The coach said Creighton’s veterans were instrumental in the team’s 2012 run, and he knows they weren’t satisfied with simply making it back to the final four.
Ribeiro, in fact, said it was difficult to find the positives as he tried to put the loss into perspective Friday night.
“It’s hard to speak about right now,” Ribeiro said. “If you ask me tomorrow, I’d tell you it’s been beautiful. I’m going to miss everyone here. I think this will go down as a game, for myself, as very frustrating. I think I’ll look back on this day poorly 10 years from now.”
Still, the Bluejays found a way to put all the pieces together after returning four starters from their 2011 squad.
Creighton made it to the College Cup on the strength of a 14-match unbeaten streak, a run that included NCAA tournament road wins against top-ranked Akron and fourth-seeded UConn.
After going 5-3-2 to open the year, Creighton finished the season 17-4-3.
“I am proud,” Bolowich said. “It’s a tremendous accomplishment for our team and our program.”