The last time Creighton faced powerhouse Georgetown, the match ended in heartbreak for the Bluejays.
It was five months ago, at the end of the rescheduled 2020 season.
CU earned a spot in the Big East tournament for the first time, and it had a chance at a semifinal upset over the undefeated Hoyas, pulling even at 1-1 in the first half and holding the top seed to one shot in the second 45 minutes.
But a collision in the box led to a Hoya penalty kick less than one minute into overtime. And that was it.
The Hoyas won 2-1, the Jays’ season ended.
“I personally thought about that game every day this summer during training,” junior keeper Keelan Terrell said. “Hopefully, that doesn’t make me sound too crazy. But it was a huge motivator. ... To perform better, to win, to go further. It wasn’t a negative thing.
“We played really well and we didn’t get the result we wanted, but that’s the motivation for us.”
Now CU (6-2-1) gets another shot at the No. 25 Hoyas (4-0-4), hosting them at 7 p.m. Thursday at Morrison Stadium.
It’s the Big East opener for both — and the start of a five-week blitz for a league full of determined squads. All but one team in the conference is over .500.
Butler has won seven in a row. Xavier is No. 21 in the coaches poll. Georgetown’s gone unbeaten in two of the past three Big East seasons, so it’s again the league favorite.
And the Jays are aiming to prove they too belong in the conference’s upper half. Thursday is their first chance to do that.
They’ll have to do it without two of their top players. Senior midfielders Cristina Garriga and Ansley Atkinson (the Big East’s assists leader) both tore ACLs in separate games last week and are out for the season.
Creighton will likely have to lean on its defense to set the tone. That’s worked so far. CU has allowed three goals in nine matches, ranking sixth in Division I in goals-against average (.318). Terrell also set a school record with a scoreless streak of 508 minutes earlier this month.
But the competition rises now. That was the top item in a team meeting Wednesday, Terrell said.
“We’ve made it this far but the real tests are coming,” Terrell said. “It’s the Big East, it’s conference play. It holds a lot more weight.”