Blandon sinks goal with 90 seconds left to send Creighton to College Cup
STORRS, Conn. -- For the first time in the storied history of the program, Creighton will make a second consecutive College Cup appearance. The eighth-ranked and 12th-seeded Bluejays punched their ticket for Hoover with a 1-0 win at seventh-ranked and fourth-seeded Connecticut on Sunday at a sold-out Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Conn.
The Jays advanced on a goal from Christian Blandon with 90 seconds left, coming off a cross from the right endline from Hermann Trophy candidate Jose Gomez. The score was Blandon's fourth goal of the fall and second game-winner, while it was the MVC-leading ninth assist of the season from Gomez.
Creighton is now 17-3-3 on the year, extending its unbeaten streak to 14 in a row, while clinching its fifth overall College Cup appearance (also 1996, 2000, 2002, 2011). Connecticut ends its season 17-4-1, losing at home for the first time since Nov. 7, 2009, and having its 38-match home unbeaten streak (32-0-6) snapped.
Connecticut had the best chance in the early minutes, as Mamadou Diouf was left unmarked down the right sideline, only to have Creighton keeper Jeff Gal turn him away.
Creighton's first scoring opportunity of the first half came with 17 minutes to play when Gomez' free kick sailed high. The Jays best chance came with just under nine minutes left in the half when Blandon's blast from 12 yards out was stopped on a kick save from UConn goalie Andre Blake.
Creighton outshot the Huskies 8-3 in the first half, as the Huskies were held without a shot in the final 36:47 of the half.
UConn had a good chance in the second minute of the second half, connecting on several passes in the box but was unable to get a shot on net.
The Huskies offered three strong chances in succession with 18 minutes to play when Gal lost his footing while hauling down a Diouf cross, but was able to keep the ball from crossing the goal line. A short time later Gal punched a curled shot by Carlos Alvarez wide, forcing a corner kick. After the corner kick, George Fochive had a good look from 12 yards out, only to have Gal make a sprawling save.
After Blandon's goal stunned the sold-out crowd, Connecticut had one more chance in the final minute, but an Alvarez header sailed wide.
For the match, Connecticut out-shot Creighton 13-10, but Gal made four saves for the shutout.
Creighton played without the services of Jose Ribas, who earned a red card in CU's game vs. Akron last Sunday. He'll be eligible to return when the Jays take the field Friday against Indiana (14-5-3) in the national semifinals.
Creighton owns a 4-3 record all-time against Indiana, including a legendary 2-1 triple-overtime win in the 2000 College Cup that advanced the Jays to its only national championship game in school history.