The Omaha Mavericks men’s soccer team fell 1-0 in Saturday’s Summit League Championship match to the Denver Pioneers. This is Denver’s fifth conference championship and their first since 2016.
The Pioneers controlled the first half, creating seven shots for themselves in the opening 45 minutes. The breakthrough came in the 14th minute, when senior midfielder Kenny Akamatsu intercepted an Omaha pass in the center of the field. After getting around two challenges, Akamatsu unleashed a left-footed curler that found the back of the net. The strike was his fourth goal of the season.
Omaha’s junior goalkeeper Ugo Tritz had a standout performance in his first championship match, finishing the game with six saves that kept the Mavericks within striking distance.
In the second forty-five minutes, Omaha began to show life. The best of their opportunities came in the final ten minutes when sophomore defender Mitch Hammer launched a volley from outside of the box that was narrowly above the crossbar and freshman midfielder Nil Ayats had two shots, one going wide left and the other smacking against the crossbar with 30 seconds remaining.
Omaha finished the match with 14 shots and none of them were on target. Ayats led the team with six shots.
The match will be the final time Omaha fans see this year’s seniors representing the Mavericks. Defender Denzel Woods, defender Billy Hoffman and forward Noor Hamadi finish their careers in Omaha with a combined nine goals (Woods with two, Hoffman with one, Hamadi with six).
After the match, Omaha head coach Bob Warming had nothing but positive things to say about this year’s senior class.
“The biggest loss is their personality,” he said. “They’re three wonderful guys with tremendous hearts and love for our team and our school.”
Following their Summit League championship victory, the Denver Pioneers will represent the conference in the NCAA tournament set to begin next week. The NCAA men’s soccer selection show is set for Monday followed by the first round of the NCAA tournament which will begin on Nov. 15.