While the campus is busy with the various homecoming activities for the returning alumni, the UNO Men’s Soccer team did not go unnoticed this past weekend.
The Western Illinois Leathernecks came to town to face the Mavericks at Caniglia Field. The two teams were getting a feel for each other in the first 30 minutes when few promising offensive moves from the Mavericks produced a goal in the 31st minute by two freshmen, midfielder Stevie Siy and forward Diego Gutierrez.
Siy took a shot at the goal but hit the cross bar. Gutierrez didn’t let the close play go to waste and dashed in to secure the goal for UNO. This is very much a characteristic for Gutierrez. When he was at Ralston High School, he tallied 267 career points and led the state with a total of 112 goals. That experience helped put UNO up 1-0 against Western Illinois.
It was only another 10 minutes before UNO’s aggressive offense got them another goal. This time, it was the coordination of Xavier Gomez’s pass to Gutierrez, who lined up a shot for Emmanuel Hamzat to sink it into the Leathernecks goal, bringing the score to 2-0.
Gomez continues to lead the conference with his assist for his seventh goal on the season. In total, UNO had 11 shots on goal in the first half alone while WIU only had two shots on goal. Omaha put up another five shots on goal compared to WIU’s four in the second half.
The Mavericks and WIU also committed a total of 18 fouls in the game, which is more than the past several games against Michigan, Florida Gulf Coast, Fort Wayne or Creighton. However, despite the fouls, UNO cruised past Western Illinois to earn their first win in a Summit League game. T
he Maverick’s overall standing is now 8-4-2 and 1-0-2 in conference play. Western Illinois is now only one point ahead of UNO in the Summit League standings, which made this weekend’s win a very important step forward into securing a good placement in tournament play next month.
The next game for UNO is in Denver on Oct. 28, who are 3-0 in conference play and 8-6 overall. Although it will not be an easy matchup, UNO has outscored their opponents in the 2017 season 21-12 while Denver has outscored their opponents by 20-12. If the Mavericks can continue to have an unrelenting offensive and put a lot of shots on goal, they could match the Denver Pioneers on offense.
The defense is where UNO can tip the scales into their favor. UNO has 17 more saves on the year than Denver. If UNO can maintain their good balance of effective offense and tough defense, they could very well overtake the Denver Pioneers. If they do so, they could take over Western Illinois in the conference standings and have the number two spot in the league.