Marquette spent an hour building a 4-0 lead against Creighton on Wednesday night, and then spent 30 minutes trying to hand that lead back to the Bluejays. It almost paid off for the visitors at Valley Fields, but Creighton got their third and final goal of the match with just 30 seconds remaining in regulation, and Marquette was able to finally fend them off for the 4-3 win.
The Golden Eagles are now 3-3-1 in Big East action, and while they’re 3-9-2 overall, their league record is still good enough for 10 points. That has them sitting in fifth place in the conference with two matches left to be played.
Connor Alba got the Golden Eagles on the board early with a nifty finish on a pass from Brody Kraussel in the fifth minute. It was crucial for MU to get off on the right foot in this match if they wanted to grab all three points, and Alba’s sure-footed blast definitely did that.
Manuel Cukaj doubled the home team’s lead in the 18th minute as Luka Prpa sent a wonderfully angled free kick towards the net. Cukaj stutter stepped to shake the defender marking him, leaped into the air, and created just enough deflection so CU keeper Michael Kluver had no chance to do anything with it.
MU reached the three goal mark in a game for just the second time all season in the 32nd minute on a goal from Grant Owens. Yet once again, it was Prpa in the mix, creating chances for his teammates, albeit this time accidentally. Prpa’s cross was chested to the ground by a Creighton defender, but it bounded away from him. Jason Davis screened him off the ball and Owens bolted forward and lasered it into the net.
While Marquette had a 3-0 lead at the midway point, it wasn’t all peaches and cream for head coach Louis Bennett’s team. The Golden Eagles were outshot 18-10 in the opening 45 minutes, and redshirt freshman keeper Noah Heim had to worry about eight corner kicks and made seven saves to keep the Jays off the board.
Ruben Sanchez got into the action just past the hour mark, when a Marquette corner kick ended up deflected straight to his feet and his seeing eye strike found its way through traffic and into the net. Catch the replay in the highlights at the end of the article here, and it certainly looks like a CU defender got a boot on it at the last second, but only enough to vault Sanchez’s wormburner into the air.
Heim’s clean sheet didn’t last much past Sanchez’s goal. Noah Franke put the Bluejays on the board in the 63rd minute with a nifty acrobatic header, and for a while, things seemed like they might be okay. Marquette kept up the pressure for a while, and Creighton struggled to even register a shot. And then, in the 83rd minute, Marios Lomis found a way to poke a ball into the net to make it a 4-2 game, and that just energized Creighton. They would rack up another five shots across the remainder of the game, including the final shot of the game, where Lomis recorded his second goal of the game, this one on a nifty header towards the post and out of the reach of Heim.
Unfortunately for Creighton and very fortunately for Marquette, that final strike came with 30 seconds left and MU was able to burn out the rest of the clock without incurring any further damage.
Heim finished with eight saves on the night to pick up his first career win as Creighton poured out 31 shots in the match. Across the pitch, Michael Kluver mustered six saves, with four coming after halftime. Luka Prpa picked up a helper on all four Marquette goals, which ties the program’s record for assists in a single game.
According to Creighton sports information director Rob Anderson, it was just the second loss in Creighton history where the Bluejays scored at least three goals. They are now — and this is not a joke — 221-2-3 all time when scoring at least three times.
How about some highlights, courtesy of the Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go?
Up Next: Remember when I said that the three points in this match were crucial for the Golden Eagles? Well, on Saturday, for Senior Night, Marquette will be treated to a visit from #21 Butler. Much better to guarantee yourself three points this week on Wednesday than have to worry about trying to pry them away from the team sitting atop the league table with 18 points.