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Stiff challenge awaits CU in league opener

Stiff challenge awaits CU in league opener

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The Creighton women’s soccer team won’t have the luxury of easing into Big East competition.

The Bluejays’ first match in their new conference comes Thursday night against preseason favorite Marquette. The Golden Eagles will bring a 7-3 record into the 7 p.m. match at Morrison Stadium and, at No. 37, are the highest-ranked RPI team Creighton has faced this season.

Marquette has won six of its past seven games, while the Bluejays (7-2) ride a seven-game winning streak into their conference opener.

“We’re going to be tested right off the bat,” Creighton coach Bruce Erickson said. “The good thing is that if there is a team from the new conference that we’re familiar with, it’s Marquette. I know their staff, and we’ve recruited some of their kids.

“Some of our kids have played against some of their players. It’s certainly a good way to start Big East play.”

Creighton will follow up Thursday’s match with the first of three straight road games Sunday at St. John’s. The Bluejays also will play at Providence and Seton Hall before playing again at home.

Creighton tied the second-longest winning streak in program history when it defeated the University of Nebraska at Omaha last week. The Bluejays already have won four more games than they did last season while scoring 27 goals in nine games, nine more than they recorded in 19 games in 2012.

“We dominated games last year, but we just couldn’t score,” Erickson said. “This year, we’re finishing our chances. But the thing is, we still have not put 90 minutes together. We’re certainly capable of playing a lot better.

“I think the one thing that has surprised me is the way this team has come together a little quicker than maybe we expected. We have 11 new faces on our roster, including nine freshmen. The good thing is that this group has proven to me that it can overcome adversity. They’ve responded when they’ve needed to respond.”

Creighton has outscored its opponents 26-5 during its winning streak, with 11 players scoring goals and 15 notching at least one point. Freshman goalkeeper Danielle Rice of Westlake, Texas, has recorded a 0.75 goals-against average during the streak.

“We were fortunate to get a few wins early,” Erickson said, “and we’ve been able to build off of that.”

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