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Storylines to watch as the season starts for Creighton men's soccer
SOCCER

Storylines to watch as the season starts for Creighton men's soccer

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Your time will come.

That’s the message Creighton’s coaches and veterans are sharing with their club as they prepare to open a non-traditional spring season Saturday at Marquette.

Whether it’s scheduling alterations, or sudden lineup changes or wild momentum swings during matches — the Jays expect that at some point they’ll be met with bizarre, routine-altering circumstances.

“Your number will get called,” Creighton coach Johnny Torres said. “I’ve told our guys, it’s not ‘if’ it will happen, it’s a matter of time. It will happen. You have to be prepared to embrace this (season) and to make the most of it. Everybody’s in, man. Everybody’s in.”

The Jays are competing this year in the Big East’s Midwest Division (picked to finish second).

Saturday’s match is the first of eight divisional competitions that’ll determine which squads will play for a conference championship in the four-team league tournament. Creighton’s also hoping to earn a spot in the 36-team NCAA tournament — CU’s missed out on a berth for three consecutive seasons.

Below are three additional storylines to watch this season with the Jays:

New scoring creators needed

Creighton has to replace its top two goal-scorers from a season ago, midfielder Yudai Tashiro and forward Luke Haakenson. Also departed are midfielder Kuba Polat and defender Younes Boudadi, who had four assists apiece.

So where does the offense come from?

“My challenge is to be able to bring guys up to speed as quickly as possible,” Torres said. “I think we have a cast that can come in and produce some of the same firepower and some of the same flare that we’ve seen in the past.”

Applying principles on defense

Torres said he and the Jays worked hard during the preseason to nail down some of the fundamental elements of their system. They’d like the shape to remain compact — back-to-front, and side-to-side — so they can prevent teams from combining on passes right through the heart of their defense.

But they’ve been training inside the Rasmussen Center all preseason. Not a full-size field. How they carry their practice work to game day will be something Torres monitors closely.

Veteran Paul Kruse, the Big East preseason co-goalkeeper of the year, will help keep the guys organized.

Homefield advantage

Creighton’s still been a difficult team to defeat inside Morrison Stadium these past few years, even though the Jays haven’t performed at the elite level they’re used to. CU’s 20-5-4 at home in the last three seasons.

But what will home matches look like during a pandemic?

It’s a nontraditional time of year for games. The weather won’t be favorable, certainly early on. Creighton has announced that it will allow a limited number of fans in the stands.

Whatever the atmosphere, though, capitalizing on the familiarity of the home setting will be important for the Jays. And they only get four chances — all of which will be critical in-league showdowns.

Omaha World-Herald: Local Sports

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