The final season in the Missouri Valley Conference did not go the way Bruce Erickson and his Creighton women's soccer team would have hoped, but that doesn't mean they are pessimistic about their first run through the BIG EAST.
The Bluejays posted a disappointing 3-13-3 record in 2012, including a 0-6 record in regular-season MVC play. Heading into a tougher conference forced the coach to reevaluate.
"When you have a year like you had last year, you refocus every phase of your program," said Erickson at Tuesday's media day. "Last year we were inexperienced, but we were also a little bit unprepared."
A youthful theme will be repeated in 2013, after having 12 newcomers a season ago. Erickson welcomes 11 fresh faces this upcoming season; two transfers join a crop of nine freshmen. It hasn't taken long for the freshman class to impress Erickson.
"Our freshman group is probably one of the best freshman classes we've had, by far the most prepared," said Erickson. "In all of our fitness testing and everything, they're leaps and bounds ahead of any class we've had, and we need to count on
a bunch of them to play."
A pair of freshmen made their presence known in last weekend's Blue-White scrimmage. Lauren Sullivan tallied three goals, and Paige Jarsombeck added a goal and an assist.
Newcomers continued to contribute in Wednesday's exhibition against Arkansas. Kirstyn Corder, who spent her first season of eligibility at New Hampshire, got the Jays on the board in the final of three 30-minute periods. Senior Lauren Cingoranelli's goal, later in the period, pushed the score to 3-2.
On Saturday, Creighton will travel to Rosemount, MN for their final exhibition against North Dakota State. Creighton opens their inaugural BIG EAST season August 23rd at Utah State. Some Bluejays believe the BIG EAST will be a better fit for them, due to the league's style of play.
"I feel like our old conference, we just beat each other up and it's more like brutal play," said co-captain Kelsey O'Donnell. "The BIG EAST, we are moving to a style that agrees with our play and I think we'll be more successful there."
Success may still be hard to come by in the new league. The league's coaches picked the Bluejays to finish ninth in the 10-team league, ahead of only Xavier. The Bluejays have used that projection to drive them.
"I think it's a motivator," said the Jays' other captain, Madelyn Buckner. "We want to prove people wrong."
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