OMAHA, Neb. — All-American Ethan Finlay scored twice and No. 2-seeded Creighton moved into the NCAA Tournament Third Round with a 3-0 win against Northern Illinois Sunday afternoon.
The win was Creighton’s ninth consecutive and its eighth consecutive shutout. It also kept the Bluejays perfect at home on the season.
The Bluejays got on the board in the 21st minute when Jose Gomez scored his fourth goal of the season. The junior midfielder one timed a crossing pass from Eric Miller into the lower left hand corner, beating goalkeeper Jordan Godsey for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
Creighton padded its lead just before halftime when Finlay took a feed from Greg Jordan and ripped a shot past Godsey to give the Jays a 2-0 lead in the 43rd minute.
Northern Illinois (15-6-0) did not record a shot until a header with less than 10 seconds left in the first half.
The Bluejays then held off the Huskies in the second half, with Isaac Kannah’s shot in the 61st minute serving as the only shot on goal for NIU in the match.
Finlay added the final tally of the day on a well executed corner kick in the 88th minute. Bruno Castro, who assisted the first goal of the day, sent a corner kick to the far post where Jake Brown headed the ball back to the middle where Finlay knocked in a header for his fifth multiple-goal match of the season. The two-time MVC Player of the Year now has a league-leading 13 goals on the season, while he has four goals in his last two NCAA Tournament appearances at Morrison Stadium.
“To be fair, Creighton was the best team we have played in a long time, that is including Akron,” Northern Illinois head coach Eric Luzzi said. “Akron is in our conference and we play them once, sometimes twice a year. That team we just played, on both sides of the ball, is about as good a team as I have seen in the last couple of years.”
Creighton outshot NIU 13-4 in the match, needing MVC Goalkeeper of the Year Brian Holt to make just one save in his 42nd career shutout and 55th career win.
“We cannot just attribute our defense on our four defenders, it goes through the entire team” first-year Bluejay head coach Elmar Bolowich said. “When we lose the ball, you see how hard Ethan (Finlay) is working to put pressure on the other players and then the guys underneath, Choco (Jose Gomez) and Bruno (Castro) – how hard they work to get the ball back, it makes it very difficult for other teams to get in a comfortable rhythm.”