HOOVER, Ala. – Before Brian Holt was a Bluejay, he was a Junior Jay.
The Creighton senior keeper, a product of Creighton Prep, helped his hometown team to 21 wins this season. But the same day Holt was named the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award winner, unseeded Charlotte stunned his second-seeded Bluejays in a NCAA Men’s College Cup semifinal at Regions Park, advancing 4-1 on penalty kicks.
Friday’s loss also ended the college career of standout Creighton forward Ethan Finlay, announced as one of three MAC Hermann Trophy finalists earlier in the day. Both Bluejays were named to the NSCAA Division I All-America first team.
“It’s pretty hard to look back at it already,” Holt said of his college experience, which he called a blessing. “I really enjoyed my time at Creighton with the community support, with the players I had the opportunity to play with just like Ethan.”
Holt’s family has deep roots in the Omaha area. An uncle played baseball and an aunt played softball and basketball at the school.
His 44th career shutout Friday padded the NCAA record set in the last home match of his career that preserved a perfect 14-0-0 season record in Omaha, a school record.
“We’ve worked so hard defensively and as coach [Elmar Bolowich] talked about, Holt had a great game himself,” Finlay said. “For it to come down to the way it did, that’s soccer. We knew that coming into it, there’s a chance for PKs. I’m really proud of our guys, I’m proud of our seniors, I’m proud of our backline, I’m proud of Brian.”
Holt, the CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year, ended with three saves.
Finlay had four shots, one on goal. The only two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in school history, he led the conference with 14 goals scored.
“We kept them off the board, but we just missed scoring that goal or two to win that game,” Bolowich said. “It wasn’t necessarily that our goal was to have a shutout. You’re just trying to play a good game, an entertaining game, a game that gives you a chance to advance.”
While Finlay emphasized that the team fell short of its overall goal, there were just six seniors on the roster.
“I have a belief that I think that Creighton will be back in the [national semifinals] sooner than later,” he said.