By Avery Wenck, Asst. Sports Editor
It was a disappointing Friday night for the Omaha Mavericks as the soccer team fell to Santa Clara Broncos 3-2 after extra time. In front of 538 fans at their home opener at Caniglia Field, the Mavericks looked to be the better side throughout the whole game; however, goals at the end of both halves saw the Broncos draw level before an extra time penalty brought the Broncos victory.
In the opening stages of the game, Omaha seemed to be up for the challenge. They dominated possession in the first half and also had five shots to Santa Clara’s one. They set up in a 4-4-2 formation with Vance Rookwood and Christian Garcia up top; similar to the game against Nebraska, the fullbacks and the wingers worked in sync to create chances from the outside.
The opener came in the 18th minute as sophomore captain Mark Moulton found some space on the right wing and fired in a cross that Rookwood headed home. Less than two minutes later, Moulton fired in a cross from the corner that senior defender Nick Miller headed home. The two goals were deserved for the Mavs as they had been outplaying the Broncos all game. Unfortunately, Santa Clara answered with a goal from a long throw by Carlos Delgadillo.
Omaha was not phased by the late goal, and they came out of halftime looking efficient and incisive as ever. Their second half offense powered on, notching 11 more shots to Santa Clara’s two. The match had been a testy one, with four yellow cards for Santa Clara before a collision that left Moulton bruised and bloodied.
The Broncos finally saw their aggressive play culminate in the 74th minute when Max Ornstil was sent off for his second bookable offense, and Santa Clara was forced to play the rest of the game with 10 men. They weren’t put off by the lack of an 11th man, as they went on to get the equalizer in the 90th minute through Benjamin Kucera.
In extra time, the story was the same: Omaha dominated most of the play, but were unlucky to concede a frighteningly soft penalty in the 108th minute. Edson Cardona stepped up for the Broncos and coolly slotted the penalty past redshirt freshman Joseph Ghitis, who was given the start over veteran Josh Christensen, the first of Ghitis’ career.
Head Coach Jason Mims was understandably distraught after the loss but seemed very positive about how the Mavericks played and how well they were prepared.
“It was gut-wrenching,” Mims said. “I thought we dominated much of the play before the red card and after the red card. I thought we were in control of the game and then conceded the first goal right before half. I thought we played some of our best soccer in the first 20 minutes of the second half. I thought we were the aggressor.”
Mims has a lot of positives to take out of this game, and understandably so. The boys looked extremely fluid from the backline through the midfield to the forwards. They possessed the ball well, worked hard to get it back when they lost it and continued to show poise in the face of a good Division-I opponent.
Luck just wasn’t on their side in this match, but they look good to take the Summit League by storm this year. The Mavs will take on number 20 ranked Stanford on Sept. 7 at 6 p.m.