Ethan Finlay delivered a golden goal in the 97th minute, as the No. 2-seeded Creighton men’s soccer team defeated No. 7-seeded South Florida 1-0 Sunday afternoon at Morrison Stadium. The goal moved the Bluejays into the fourth College Cup in program history and their first since 2002. Senior goalkeeper Brian Holt stopped three shots, all from Big East Offensive Player of the Year Dom Dwyer to set an NCAA record with his 43rd career shutout.
Just minutes after Finlay sent perhaps his best scoring chance of the match just left of the goal, he was able to capitalize on another opportunity in the 97th minute. Andrew Ribeiro ripped a shot attempt from outside the 18 yard box, but the shot deflected off of a USF defender and right to the Bluejays’ senior All-American. The two-time MVC Player of the Year turned and fired, sending his shot into the lower left side of the goal to further ingrain himself into Creighton men’s soccer lore.
The game-winner was his team-leading 14th goal of the season and his sixth game-winner of the year. The score was also his sixth career NCAA Tournament goal, tying him with Brian Mullan and Mike Tranchilla for the school record. His 20th career game-winning goal served as his third overtime game-winner.
The victory preserved the second perfect home season in school history, as the Bluejays finished 14-0-0 in Omaha, setting a school record with their 14th home win.
Holt, the Omaha native playing in his final home match, posted his 43rd career clean sheet, 25 of which have come at Morrison Stadium. The MVC Goalkeeper of the Year lowered his NCAA-best goals against average to 0.22. Holt moved out of a tie with Indiana’s T.J. Hanning and Bowling Green’s Scott Vallow to own the NCAA career record with 43 shutouts.
Creighton’s 18th shutout of the season moves the Bluejays to the fourth College Cup in program history, having also advanced this far in the NCAA Tournament in 1996, 2000 and 2002. The victory also returns Creighton head coach Elmar Bolowich to his fourth straight College Cup and his fifth overall.
Creighton will face unseeded Charlotte (16-4-3), after the 49ers moved past No. 3-seed Connecticut with a 4-2 shootout victory on Sunday afternoon at UConn. The Bluejays and 49ers will kickoff at 5 pm in the first semifinal on Friday, with No. 1-seed North Carolina facing No. 13-seed UCLA in the second match of the day. The winners will face off the the NCAA championship on Sunday at 3 pm.