Creighton’s men’s soccer team had some pretty heavy expectations placed on it Tuesday when the Bluejays landed the No. 3 spot in the coaches’ preseason rankings.
Creighton, which starts two-a-day workouts Wednesday, has some massive holes to fill with the departure of seven starters from last season’s 21-2-1 team that played its way to the national semifinals.
Coach Elmar Bolowich is confident he can blend his returning players with a strong group of newcomers to form a team that will be equally competitive this season. He’s been asked repeatedly during the offseason how long he thinks that process will take.
His three-word answer: “I don’t know.”
“Every group, every year has its own dynamic,” said Bolowich, starting his second season as Creighton’s head coach. “It constantly changes, and that’s why you can never compare one year to another or one team to another.
“We are going to have establish our dynamic in fall camp. The earlier and the sooner we can do that, the better off you are. Last year, we did that, and it was pretty smooth sailing. This year, it may not be as smooth with almost half the team consisting of new players.”
That could put a premium on patience for a coach who admits he’s not the most patient of people. Nor is there any way of speeding up the process, Bolowich said.
“There is no magic formula,” he said. ”A lot of the integration process depends on the players and how quickly they make the adjustment to the college environment and to our playing style.
“You never know how quickly that transformation is going to happen.”
Things clicked from the get-go last season, thanks mainly to the veteran makeup of Bolowich’s first Creighton team. The development might take more time this season as the coaches have to integrate a lot of new moving parts into the system.
“The key is getting everyone thinking on the same line and understanding his role,” Bolowich said. ”We have our work cut out for us, but it’s an exciting prospect, too.”
One that requires a sense of urgency. Creighton will hold an intrasquad scrimmage Sunday, then play exhibition games Aug. 17 against Maryland and Aug. 19 against the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The regular season begins Aug. 24 at home against Northern Illinois.
“I find every year exciting because you’re starting with a new group and a new dynamic,” Bolowich said. ”The whole process just renews itself again, even if you have 11 starters returning.”