OMAHA, NEB. — Extending an amazing streak of defensive excellence Friday night, the UMBC men's soccer team is going to a place it has never before been.
Winning their fourth consecutive road game, the Retrievers secured the first of fourth berths in the NCAA Division I College Cup — soccer's equivalent of the Final Four — for the first time in school history.
After 90 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods yielded no goals, UMBC defeated host and No. 12 seed Creighton, 4-3, in a penalty-kick shootout before an announced 2,407 at Morrison Stadium.
"For our players, this was a goal for our team since day one," UMBC coach Pete Caringi said. "To go on the road and play four games against four ranked teams is pretty special."
The Retrievers (15-5-4) have not allowed a goal on the road in seven consecutive postseason games, a span of 788 minutes that dates to when Princeton scored in the 32nd minute of a 2010 match.
"They're a very disciplined team," Creighton coach Elmar Bolowich said. "They're well coached and well disciplined. They're very, very good defensively.
"There's a reason they haven't given up a goal defensively throughout the playoffs."
UMBC paved its road to Cary by knocking off a string of seeded teams. After getting past Wake Forest in a shootout in their first-round game, the Retrievers eliminated No. 4 seed Maryland and No. 13 seed Louisville before ending Creighton's season.
It didn't come easy for UMBC, but goalkeeper Billy Heavner said the hard-fought victories are a little sweeter.
"We take pride in being road warriors," Heavner said. "But we're a pretty good team ourselves."
Both teams had two just shots on goal in the opening 45 minutes. The Bluejays also had two corner kicks.
UMBC's first shot on goal came at the 25-minute mark of the first half, a strike from the left side by senior midfielder Jordan Becker that sailed about 2 feet above the crossbar.
The Retrievers' second shot, coming about a minute later, was just a bit higher, as Banjo bounced one off the scoreboard at the south end of the stadium.
In overtime, the match became increasingly physical. UMBC dominated play in the first period, but Creighton (16-4-2) just missed on the best scoring chance of the match when midfielder Lucas Stauffer was wide on a shot toward the left corner of the goal with 10 seconds to play.
Creighton put more pressure on UMBC in the second overtime and had another good chance to score four minutes before the shootout, but the attempt from midfielder Fernando Castellanos just barely rose over the crossbar.
Momentum shifted toward UMBC early in the shootout when the Bluejays missed their first two attempts.
"Every kick is the same," Heavner said. "You try to make the best read possible."
Now it's time for the College Cup. The Retrievers enjoyed a spirited celebration on the field, but Heavner said there's still work to be done.
"We're very excited with the situation," Heavner said. "We knew we belonged here. As soon as the game was over, we said we're not done yet."
NOTES: UMBC now is tied with California-Irvine for second-most wins in the past two seasons (31). Coastal Carolina leads the way with 34. ... This was UMBC's first match against a current member of the Big East Conference since 1993, when the Retrievers defeated Georgetown, 5-1.