Goalkeeper Katie Jo Swanson, who has played every minute for Creighton this fall, ranks fourth in the nation with 78 saves.
Swanson and the Bluejays have limited their last five opponents to five goals. They gave up 13 in their first six matches as center back Madelyn Buckner, a sophomore captain, worked with the four new starters on defense.
“The good thing is, the defense is coming around and playing better,” CU coach Bruce Erickson said. “We’re starting to gel a little bit together. That happens when you get a dozen games under your belt.”
Swanson has lowered her goals against average to 1.54. She’s allowed 18 goals for a .812 save percentage.
Creighton (3-6-2) opens Missouri Valley play at 7 p.m. Saturday at Morrison Stadium against defending champion Illinois State. The Redbirds are 6-3-2 and 0-1-0.
Last season, Illinois State beat Creighton 8-1, a game in which Erickson said everything that could go wrong did. The same thing happened to Illinois State last week when they lost 4-1 to Evansville, which had been picked seventh in the MVC.
Erickson said the Bluejays are ready for Valley play.
“We’re still very, very young. If they can follow the game plan, we’re certainly feeling like we’re stringing together some good games and practices and the players heads are in the right place,” he said. “They are taking it all in and their focus is good.”
— Marjie Ducey