By Nate Tenopir, Sports Editor
Playing perhaps to show they belong, UNO men’s soccer won in a 2-0 shutout at Oral Roberts Saturday night and finished 2012 fourth in the conference. Normally that would get the Mavs into The Summit League conference championship tournament.
But the Mavs will have to wait another two full seasons before reclassification ends and that can become a reality. It’s still quite a bit ahead of what most of the league expected, picking UNO to finish last in the conference.
Freshman Giovanni Giattino sparked the Maverick attack, scoring both goals and firing three shots on net. Giattino’s marks were his third and fourth of the season, tying him for second among UNO goal scorers with Chava Garcia.
His four-point night propelled Giattino past teammate Vance Rookwood to end the season as the Mavs’ leading scorer with 15 points. Giattino played in 13 of UNO’s 16 games, failing to record a point just five times.
Saturday was Giattino’s biggest offensive output of the season. The freshman’s next best performance was a one goal, one assist, three-point match against San Diego State at Riverside, Calif. on Sept. 14.
Giattino’s 15-point season is fourth in the conference and best among all freshmen players.
After a scoreless first half, Giattino broke the ice in the 56th minute, collecting a rebound from a shot by teammate Garcia. Garcia’s shot was saved by Oral Roberts goalkeeper Ryan Grashik, but Grashik couldn’t control the shot and Giattino scored to make it 1-0.
The Golden Eagles brought Grashik forward to try and score the equalizer in the final minute, but UNO’s Mo Salama gained possession and found Giattino. Giattino scored from near midfield into an empty net to cap the match.
The Mavs outshot Oral Roberts 18-12 and 10-6 in shots on goal. Omaha goalie Matt Grosey made six saves to earn his third shutout of the season.
For the second straight game, UNO used a three-man back line on the defensive end. Salama, Nick Miller and Felipe da Silva all played 90 minutes of defense to help Grosey earn the shutout.
Oakland won the regular season conference crown with a 0-0 tie against Eastern Illinois on Saturday. Kansas City took second after dropping a 2-1 match at Western Illinois.
The win by the Leathernecks secured third place. Fort Wayne’s 1-0 victory over IUPUI pushed the Mastodons one point ahead of the Jaguars, and qualified IPFW for the conference tournament with the fourth seed..
In a regular year the Mavs would take on Oakland in the first round of The Summit League Championship. Against the teams that qualified for the tournament, UNO went 0-3-1
But two of the losses came in overtime and all three were by a single goal. Omaha dominated the bottom of the league, going 3-0 against Oral Roberts, Eastern Illinois and IUPUI. In those three matches the Mavs scored eight goals to the opponents’ one.
UNO’s only home loss of 2012 came in a 2-1 defeat to Oakland in overtime on Oct. 28.