*All statistics and standings are as of Oct 20*
With Halloween right around the corner, it seems fitting that the play of the Omaha men’s soccer squad has lately resembled that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Much like the famous split personalities of the virtuous Dr. Jekyll and the villainous Mr. Hyde, there have been two very different Maverick teams on the field, depending on which time you watch.
In most games this year, Omaha has played remarkably well. They have controlled the game’s tempo, defended brilliantly and played fearlessly. But for all the good moments of soccer, there have also been mistakes or lapses in concentration that cost the team the result they would have deserved.
Given the high number of injuries and the difficult schedule that the Mavericks have had to play this season, these small moments can usually be forgiven. There is no doubt that Omaha has faced more than their share of adversity this season.
Yet it seems that when this adversity is highest, the Mavericks play their best.
Perhaps the best match of Omaha’ season was a road game against a strong Purdue Fort Wayne team. Not only were the Mavericks coming off a hard-fought and emotionally-draining loss against their rival, the Denver Pioneers, but the Mavericks also had to play this match without their starting center, Seth Rinderknecht, and Head Coach Bob Warming. A poor result could have been expected and even forgiven.
Instead, the Mavericks showed a determination to succeed and ended up winning 4-1, which was their biggest win of the season.
Overall, it has been in Summit League games, which perhaps matter the most at this point in the season, that Omaha has been at their best. The other two Summit League games the Mavericks have played this year were the close loss to Denver and a 2-1 win against Western Illinois.
It has been out of conference play that the Mavericks have suffered the most and made their costliest mistakes. Recently, it has been the mistake, or perhaps bad luck, of missing penalties that have cost the Mavericks the most.
In a draw against Campbell University, strong winds prevented both teams from creating many good scoring opportunities. The best opportunity for the Mavericks in that game was a missed penalty call that could have given them the win.
Later, in a loss against Bradley University, the Mavericks were given a penalty and had the chance to tie up the game after being down 2-1. Instead, that penalty was missed and minutes later, Bradley scored to make the game 3-1.
Many of the mistakes that Omaha has made this season can be fixed fairly easily, offering a good deal of optimism for the rest of the reason. Another reason for optimism has been the greatly improved offensive play this season. After starting scoreless in their first three games, the Mavericks have found their stride, scoring 13 points in their last seven games.
This offensive output has been spearheaded by the play of Diego Gutierrez. Gutierrez has elevated his play from last season and currently leads the team with seven goals and four assists.
If the Maverick offense – and Gutierrez – can keep it up, this team should be able to finish the season strong and perhaps defend their Summit League title. Another NCAA tournament win is well within reach for this team. It will just take a lot more Jekyll, and a little less Hyde.