When the bracket for the NCAA Soccer Championship was released on Monday, Creighton's experience was far different from the two previous years under coach Elmar Bolowich.
Instead of the automatic birth from winning the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, as the Jays did in 2011 and 2012, CU was forced to wait to see if they earned an at-large birth following an up-and-down regular season, Wait, they did. All but one of the 16 first-round pairings had been announced, and Bolowich's squad had not heard their name.
Their patience was rewarded, as the team learned it would host Western Athletic Conference champion, Seattle, on Thursday night. With the selection, Creighton will have appeared in 21 of the last 22 NCAA Tournaments. The Redhawks bring a 10-8-4 record to Omaha.
One way or another, Seattle will return to the Pacific Northwest, as the winner of Thursday's game plays at Washington, the No. 2 overall seed, in the second round. Jamie Clark, who headed the CU program in 2010, now coaches the Huskies.
CU found itself squarely on the bubble after finishing fifth in the BIG EAST. Georgetown, the sixth overall seed, and Marquette, No. 9, earned first round byes, while St. Johns and Providence will join the Jays in first-round action on Thursday. The Friars eliminated Creighton from the conference tournament and advanced to the championship, where they fell to the Golden Eagles.
If Creighton hopes to advance to a third consecutive College Cup, they will have to defeat some of the nation's top teams to get there. Bolowich's squad owns a 2-4-2 record against this year's tournament field. Creighton has fared well against some of the top national seeds, defeating No. 3 Notre Dame in an exhibition and drawing against Georgetown and No. 11 Michigan State. The 1-0 loss at Marquette is Creighton's lone loss to a seeded team.
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