By Avery Wenck, Asst. Sports Editor
It was a crisp, sunny, Senior afternoon on Saturday as the Omaha Men’s Soccer team took on the IUPUI Jaguars. With the Mavericks needing a win to clinch at least a share of the conference title, they had everything to play for.
It was evident right away that Omaha was up for it, flying out of the gates early and pegging the Jaguars back into their own half. Omaha’s attacking play would prove fruitful in the 5th minute as Senior Vance Rookwood tapped home a Mark Moulton cross, his 7th of the season.
Unfortunately, the Mavericks switched off and conceded a goal 20 seconds later on a nice finish off the crossbar from Emmanuel Usen, his 6th of the season. Regardless, that would prove to be the only opportunity for IUPUI and Redshirt Freshman Joseph Ghitis would only have to make one of his two saves in the first half.
The second half would be when the Mavericks turned it up and imposed their will on the Jaguars. They forced IUPUI goalkeeper Eduardo Cortes into 3 saves on 11 shots, bringing their shot count to 20 on the day. The go-ahead goal would come in the 66th minute through Senior Felipe Da Silva.
After having a couple chances go close, the Brazilian finally made it count on a headed goal off of a Logan Mendez corner. Da Silva claimed it had been a play they had worked on the training ground.
“We have been practicing that play a lot,” Da Silva said. “I talked to Logan before the game about it and told him to deliver a great ball and he did.”
This victory was the cap to a perfect day in which the team honored their seniors. The win means that the Maverick soccer program has clinched a share of the Summit League title just four years into existence.
Head Coach Jason Mims deserves credit for his work over those four seasons. He has built this program from the ground up and has these lads playing fast, attractive football, which is a promise he made to the fans and athletic department before the season. While he will say there is still a lot of work to do, and there is, the progress has been impressive.
“We had the chance to finish the conference with a win on Senior Day and we did just that,” Mims said.
“I believe that’s six wins in a row at home, on top of two games against Santa Clara and Stanford which we also could have won. I was proud for the seniors as well. No one wants to lose on Senior Day and I’m proud of our seniors. We also have a chance to win the conference, which is impressive considering we only had one win three years ago.”
Joe Marinkovich, Felipe da Silva, Vance Rookwood, Nick Miller and Jordan Gealy are the five seniors who played their final home game as a Maverick on Saturday. Those seniors deserve a lot of credit as well. They combined to make up 13 of Omaha’s 20 goals as well as notching four assists.
Rookwood holds a record in just about every offensive category for the Mavericks. Gealy has been the perfect role player for the Mavericks this year, coming on as a sub in 13 games this season and scoring a goal he won’t forget against Denver. Marinkovich will go down as one of the most efficient midfielders to play for Omaha.
His impact in the center of the park has been pivotal to Omaha’s success this season, and it makes sense that he would start 11 of the 15 games he’s appeared in this year. Nick Miller and Felipe da Silva have shown all year that they are the best centreback partnership in the Summit League. They have been impossible to break down this season while also contributing to the offense.
The Mavericks will wrap up their season this weekend against Incarnate Word on Friday and Grand Canyon on Sunday in Phoenix, Arizona.