Just a week after their exciting shootout victory over no.10 Washington, the University of Nebraska at Omaha men’s soccer team opened their regular season with two weekend home games against the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Pacific University. The Mavericks recorded wins over UMKC and Pacific in the weekend set.
Game 1 vs. UMKC
The Mavericks seemed to carry the momentum from their win over Washington into Friday night’s 7:30 matchup with the UMKC Roos. The Omaha men’s team followed up the women’s game with a 2-0 victory in the nightcap.
Omaha jumped out to a quick start with some early excitement. In the 12th minute, junior midfielder Mark Moulton dribbled through a crowd of seven UMKC defenders, then skipped a goal over the head of Roos’ goalie Ryan Tome to put the Mavericks on the board.
The nightcap once again brought on light, misty rain and the crowd of 1,748 broke out their umbrellas.
Wes White of UMKC had a great chance in the 22nd minute as he beat the Omaha defense for a 1-on- 1 opportunity but Ghitis turned it away.
Omaha extended their lead to two goals when Michael Jaime perfectly placed a pass to Andres Irvin, who headed the ball into the net in the 27th minute. Two spectacular goals in just the first half had Maverick fans on their feet and UMKC on their heals.
The Omaha crowd was quick to give negative feedback to the ref- erees as midfielder Kevin Correa’s breakaway opportunity was spoiled by a UMKC player who hauled him down by the shorts. A minute later, when Felipe da Silva was issued a questionable yellow card, the crowd was in an uproar.
Despite the tension and poor offici- ating, the Mavericks took a 2-0 lead into halftime.
Omaha dominated possession in the early second half and had sev- eral good looks at the net but they all came up short. The Maverick defense matched UMKC’s desperate intensity in the second half. A UMKC goal in the 81st minute from Pandelis Popgeorgiev made things interesting, however, the Mavericks held tight for the final ten minutes to win 2-1.
Omaha now holds a 3-1-1 all-time record over UMKC.
Game 2 vs. Pacific
The Omaha men’s soccer team improved to 2-0 on the weekend with their 2-1 victory over Pacific.
In their second season as a pro- gram, the Pacific Tigers were looking for a solid program win on the road. The Tigers returned all 11 starters from last season’s team that went 3-15. Pacific soph- omore Tristan Blackmon led the West Coast Conference last year in goals, but was kept scoreless against Omaha.
The Mavericks came out on the at- tack early in the game with three quick shots within the first ten minutes. It seemed the only time that Pacific could get near the goal was when they were offsides, as Omaha’s defense did a fine job of holding their back line.
Mark Moulton showed great pa- tience with the ball on offense and, along with Kevin Correa, was able to take several decent shots early. However, Pacific goalie Jordan Adachi, who posted a 2.59 goals against average last season, was able to keep Omaha off the board for a majority of the game.
Omaha led Pacific 14-1 in shots, and yet the Mavericks came up empty on every opportunity and took a 0-0 tie into halftime.
Pacific came out with more ag- gressiveness in the second half. They delivered their first shot on goal that was deflected by Ghitis. Minutes later, Pacific capitalizedoff of a defensive gaffe that left the Omaha goal empty. Pacific’s Brian Im was there to bury an easy shot and give Pacific a 1-0 lead.
Things were looking bleak for Omaha as time wound down in the second half with no positive results. Finally, after 18 shots on the day, the Mavericks evened the score with a Fazlo Alihodzic 60’ minute goal.
Omaha completed the come- back when Logan Mendez wentcoast to coast and scored in the 89th minute. Pacific was quick to respond with an attack of their own, but Ghitis was able to make a spectacular save with 15 seconds to play, securing the 2-1 win. The Mavericks are 2-0 for the first time in program history.
Omaha will play host to national- ly ranked #20 UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge next weekend on Friday and Sunday at UNO’s Cani- glia Field.