by Daniel Robertson, Big D Soccer
The word most used by the Creighton BlueJays' players and coaches after the game on Friday night was "frustrated." It's just about the highest compliment you can give to an opposing defense and the Hoosiers certainly did a fantastic job of preventing Creighton from ever getting comfortable.
The prospect everyone was watching for Creighton is senior midfielder Jose Gomez. The small attacking midfielder has torched NCAA defenses all season, but on Friday he struggled to ever get going. You could see the clear talent and vision there in a few passes he made, but without many other offensive options on Creighton, Gomez was left to do most of the work on his own.
Unfortunately, it never really came off for the southern California native and he probably didn't do too much to increase his draft stock. With undeniable skill - he resembles a young David Ferreira out there - Gomez could still raise his draft stock considerably with a good combine.
Where Creighton impressed was at central defense and midfield. They rode their luck a bit, surviving what seemed to be a back-breaking goal before halftime that referees ruled didn't beat the final whistle, but only gave up one goal.
Freshman central defender Brendan Hines-Ike was the pick of the bunch, shutting down Indiana's star sophomore Eriq Zavaleta while even getting forward in attack a time or two. Just a freshman, the former Chivas USA Academy captain could be in line for a Homegrown contract sooner rather than later.
Also impressive for the Blue Jays was defensive midfielder Zach Barnes. He's not a guy that's ever going to score goals, but showed a grit and edge to his game that frustrated AJ Corrado and Zavaleta forcing the Hoosiers to attack almost exclusively down the wins.
The Blue Jays will be disappointed having fallen in the semifinals for the second straight year, but having played five freshman in the match, they'll certainly remain among the NCAA elite for years to come.