By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
Ethan Finley’s goal in the 96th minute sent host Creighton past USF, 1-0, in Omaha, Neb., and helped the Bluejays advance to the Final Four.
“I give Creighton credit on the day for what they did,” USF head coach George Kiefer said.
Creighton found itself ahead at the end after USF put itself into position to go ahead twice before overtime.
Creighton had given up only five goals all season, but Ashani Fairclough found the net in the first half and Dom Dwyer scored with about 20 minutes to go in regulation. Offsides calls wiped away both scoring chances.
The game originally was scheduled for Saturday, but heavy snow delayed things until 2 p.m. (EST) Sunday. Kiefer did not think the postponement had an effect on his team that had played in bad weather conditions many times this season.
“Right before kickoff you can be drained on that, but I felt the leadership of the group was very good and the approach was good,” he said.
It marked the Bulls’ third trip to the Elite Eight and the second since the 2009 season. USF made its fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament after finishing last season with a 9-5-4 record. The Bulls finished 13-4-4 this season with a few new, key pieces to its roster.
“When I step back and look at the record we had a year ago and losing that many players, to get all these guys all on the same page this year it was a real fun team to be involved with,” Kiefer said. “A lot of good life lessons throughout the year. I’m very thankful for each and every one of them.”
USF fell short of a national title, but can look back on great success, especially in conference play. The Bulls won the Big East Red Division title after not losing a game in the Big East. Dwyer also was named the conference’s offensive player of the year in his USF debut after leading the Big East in goals and points.