EVANSVILLE, Ind. - The University of Evansville men's soccer team will cap "Purple Saturday" when it hosts No. 16 Creighton for a 7 p.m. match at Arad McCutchan Stadium Saturday evening. More importantly, the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title will be on the line, as the Purple Aces can claim their first-ever MVC championship with a win over the Bluejays, but CU would claim the crown with a win or tie.
The Aces (9-6-1, 3-1-1 MVC) are coming off of their first tie of the season, as they earned a 2-2 draw with Drake last Saturday night in Des Moines, Iowa. With both teams getting on the scoreboard, it ended a 10-match streak for UE where one team had failed to score. The Aces were 5-5 in that same span, posting shutouts over Oral Roberts, Eastern Illinois, Missouri State, SIU Edwardsville and Central Arkansas. Against the Bulldogs, sophomore Mark Anthony Gonzalez notched his fourth goal of the season in the 27th minute and freshman Faik Hajderovic got on the score sheet for the first time in six games, when he converted on a penalty kick chance in 69th minute for his team-leading fifth goal of the year.
Hajderovic leads the Aces offensively with 15 points, scoring five goals and adding five assists. Gonzalez is second on the squad with nine points on four goals and one assists, while senior captain Jesse Sharp is third on the team with eight points on three goals and a pair of assists. In goal, sophomore goalkeeper Eric Teppen sports a 1.31 goals against average with 64 saves and five shutouts in just over 1443 minutes between the posts.
Creighton (12-3-2, 4-0-1 MVC) enters Saturday's contest on a seven-match winning streak and is unbeaten in its last eight games. The Bluejays opened Valley play with a scoreless tie at Drake on Sept. 29, before going on their winning streak. CU has outscored its opponents, 26-12, this season and has yet to allow a goal in conference action. Creighton has conceded just two goals in its last eight matches, with both of them coming in a 3-2 win at Princeton.
Timo Pitter and Jose Gomez lead the Bluejays with 16 points each, while three other CU players have tallied six or more points. Pitter's points have come on seven goals and two assists, and Gomez has found the back of the net four times and leads the MVC with eight assists. Alex Bolowich and Jeff Gal have split time in goal for Creighton, as Bolowich has logged 871 minutes in goal and Gal has played the other 720 minutes. Gal has put up the better statistics, going 8-0-0 in his eight starts with a 0.25 goals against average, 28 saves and six shutouts. Bolowich owns a 4-3-2 record and a 1.03 goals against average with 38 saves and four clean sheets.
Creighton has dominated the all-time series with Evansville, going 21-3-1 against the Aces in 25 previous meetings. Last season, the Bluejays posted a 2-0 win over UE in Omaha, Neb. Evansville's last point against CU came in 2009, when the Aces played the Bluejays to a 1-1 draw. UE's last win over the Bluejays was a 2-1 victory at McCutchan Stadium in 2004.