Inspiring Drake Effort Thwarted By No. 12 Creighton In Double OT, 3-2
The game-winning tally ended a brilliant effort by the upset-minded Bulldogs, who were in search of only their third title-game appearance in school history and first since capturing the championship in 2009.
Redshirt sophomore Jarred Arde (Gulfport, Miss./Gulfport) nearly gave Drake the triumph 40 seconds into the second overtime, but Jeff Gal made the stop on his effort for the Bluejays.
Jake Brown delivered a strike for Creighton in the 104th minute (103:37) that was pulled in by redshirt junior goalkeeper Rich Gallagher (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forest Academy).
The Bluejays then secured their berth in the MVC title game on Keller's heroics. Earning assists on the tally were Eric Miller and Brent Kallman.
By virtue of going to overtime, Drake equaled a school record set in both 1992 and 1988 with its eighth overtime game of the season.
Creighton won the battle of the shots in the affair, 25-15, including 14-6 on goal.
Playing in his final collegiate soccer game, senior Michael Thaden (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley) directed Drake's offensive efforts with a game-high five shots. Adding four and three shots, respectively, were junior Brian Grand (North Branch, Minn./North Branch) and Arde. Leading Creighton with five shots was Jose Gomez.
The outcome dampened the memory of the final collegiate soccer games for Thaden and redshirt junior Jackson Teeling (Waukee, Iowa/Dowling Catholic), who donned the Blue and White for the final time on Friday (Nov. 9).
Gallagher corralled a game-high nine saves in the affair, while Gal recorded four stops for the Bluejays.
The showdown between two venerable MVC combatants started as a spirited affair with Creighton nearly cracking the scoring column first in the tilt as a shot by Sean Kim in the 28th minute (27:27) got through the hands of Gallagher and nearly crossed the goal line before a lunging team save by redshirt freshman Alec Bartlett (Overland Park, Kan./St. James Academy) cleared the ball out and ended the threat.
Grand nearly fed sophomore Thomas Schermoly (Olathe, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas) for a Drake goal at the 30:52 mark, but Gal made the save to thwart the scoring opportunity.
Grand took matters into his own hands in the 33rd minute (32:35) mark registering his second goal of the season to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. The tally off an assist from junior Nick Marshall (Glen Carbon, Ill./Edwardsville), was the first for Drake versus Creighton since Thaden netted a goal in a 2-1 loss to the Bluejays in 2010.
Creighton outshot the Bulldogs in the initial stanza, 12-7. Gallagher pulled in four saves in the first half to send the Bulldogs into the intermission with a 1-0 lead.
The advantage held until Gomez tied the game at one in the 56th minute (55:34) with a blast from the middle of the 18-yard box. Timo Pitter earned the assist on the tally.
Momentum swung into Creighton's favor after the goal as 34 seconds later Eric Miller connected on a header in front of the right post at the 56:08 mark off a pass from Jose Ribas to put the Bluejays ahead 2-1.
Responding, Thaden squared the contest at two unleashing a rocket past Gal for his team-leading seventh goal of the season in the 60th minute (59:28), following a corner from junior Addison Eck (Springfield, Ill./Sacred Heart Griffin).
A shot by Bruno Castro at the 86:39 mark nearly gave Creighton the late lead but a team save by Teeling cleared the ball out. The Bluejays' follow-up shot did go in the goal, but it was waved off after a handball on Creighton.