Indiana Daily Student

Game a battle between underdogs

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Don't tell Creighton that five-time national champion IU is an underdog. And don't try to convince the Hoosiers that the Bluejays, who outscored IU 6-2 this season, are the sleeper team of the NCAA tournament.\nBoth unseeded teams made improbable runs through the postseason to reach Friday's semifinal match, which Creighton won 2-1 in three overtimes.\nThe two teams that met in Friday's semifinal were similar in five ways:\nBoth knocked off top-seeded opponents on the road in their three previous postseason matches. And both teams reached the Final Four with few returning starters and few superstars.\n"No one expected us to be here because of the people we lost last year and the way we ended the season," IU senior midfielder Justin Tauber said. "We had a tough road, but we got here and the game could have gone either way. You got to take your hat off to Creighton."\nLike the Hoosiers, Creighton won all three of its previous tournament matches away from home. While the Bluejays outscored their opponents 7-0 in those matches, the Hoosiers handled opposing teams 7-1. Both teams also knocked off top teams en route to the semifinals, as Creighton upset No. 4 San Diego and No. 5 Virginia, and IU overwhelmed No. 8 San Jose State and No. 1 North Carolina.\nLike IU, Creighton had lost a significant amount of starters from 1999. While IU graduated four and one went pro from last year's roster, six left the Bluejays, including four who went pro.\nBut beyond the similarities, the Bluejays became the first team that IU lost to twice in one season since 1984. Creighton had also dominated the Hoosiers 4-1 Sept. 15.\n"I don't think they're underdogs at all," IU junior goalkeeper Colin Rogers said. "They really took it to us in the beginning of the season, and we knew what a good team they were."\nSophomore Mike Tranchilla and senior Brian Mullan, each scored in Friday's game. They've combined for five goals against the Hoosiers this year.\nWhile Sunday's title game was the Bluejays' first advancement to a NCAA final in any sport, Creighton has the qualities of a champion.\n"I think their work ethic is just terrific," IU coach Jerry Yeagley said. "Their intangibles, the heart that they play with, makes them even more difficult."\nThe talent on Creighton, like IU, isn't showcased in big-name players. For the first time since 1996, a Hoosier wasn't selected as a first-team All-American. Creighton, on the other hand, boasts second-team All-American Brian Mullan, and the Bluejays' success is more of a team effort.\n"First of all, Indiana is never an underdog," Mullan said. "We're just happy to be here. We don't have any of the superstars that a lot of the teams in the playoffs have. We're just a bunch of guys that like to play together and play for each other."\nAnd win together.

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