Back in February, Elmar Bolowich had the chance to take on a new challenge as head coach of Creighton University.
A coach at North Carolina for more than 20 years, Bolowich saw this as a final chance to make a change – either see out the rest of his career as a Tar Heel, or jump at this last opportunity.
Bolowich ultimately made the decision to move to Nebraska, and in his first season with the Bluejays is enjoying a strong 5-0 start.
”It’s a great start, and we haven’t given up a goal so far,” Bolowich told MLSsoccer.com. “Not clicking on all cylinders yet, we still struggle a little bit with offensive play, making the connections and scoring the necessary goals.”
Bolowich brought in a few more recruits to help shore things up, but has mostly relied on the talented roster he inherited that includes a top profressional prospect in senior forward Ethan Finlay, a stalwart in goal in Brian Holt, and former US youth international Tyler Polak at left back.
“Coach Bolowich hasn’t really changed things too much,” Finlay told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s kind of embraced our style and kind of tweaked it to some things he’s used while he was at North Carolina, where obviously his success speaks for itself.”
Finlay has had three coaches in his four years with the Bluejays, and he admits that each change has caused him some panic. Bolowich’s hiring, however, reassured the striker.
“Our Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen made sure after [former Creighton coach] Jamie [Clark] left that we were going to go find a premier coach in college soccer and I think he went out and did that,” Finlay said.
One of the attractions to the post for Bolowich was the large crowds that come out to Morrison Stadium, a soccer specific stadium in Omaha. In two homes games this year, an average of 4,824 people have come out. To put it into perspective, the biggest crowd Bolowich ever had while at North Carolina was 4,717.
“It’s tremendous to see the atmosphere – the students came out and they created an atmosphere by themselves,” Bolowich said. “We have tremendous support within the Omaha community and the rest of the university.”
While the strong start is certainly progress – Creighton have outscored opponents 11-0 in those five wins – there’s a long road ahead, and a tough schedule to navigate through. The team travels to play Maryland and Indiana later in the year, and hosts UC Irvine, to go with the rest of the Missouri Valley Conference schedule.
“My expectations are very high,” he said. “I think this is a program that can be in the top 10 on an annual basis, we just have to work extremely hard at it and that’s what I’m willing to do.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.