Omaha men’s soccer drops close title game to Denver


Jack Hoover

The Omaha men's soccer team standing on the field after the game
The Omaha soccer team after the game. Photo by Owen Godberson/the Gateway

In many ways, this is a result that we’ve seen before.

The last two trips to Denver University to play the Pioneers in soccer have all ended the same way for the Omaha Mavericks. The Mavericks fight until the end of the game but end up losing out by a single goal.

This time around, as Omaha and Denver met for the third time in the last four years at CIBER Field, the result was the exact same. Despite a hard-fought effort from the Mavericks, the Pioneers outlasted them by a score of 1-0 to take the 2019 Summit League Championship crown.

Compared to the three other total times that Denver and Omaha have met in the Summit League tournament, this match seemed to lack a little bit of the usual luster, due to the fact that both teams came into this match in the midst of down years—neither team came into the match with winning records. However, the fact that neither team would be able to grab a large bid to the NCAA Tournament seemed to add a little bit more grittiness and determination. Both teams played like their seasons were on the line.

Early on in the match, the fouls came in quickly from both sides, as neither wanted to give away any ground without a fight. The attacking action in the match also moved quickly from one side of the field to the other, as both teams started out with attacking intent immediately.

The first good chance of the game for the Mavericks came in the fifth minute, as freshman Andreas Hermansson fired off a shot from a tight angle that went high and wide over the Denver goal. Then in the 25th minute of the match, sophomore Junior Noutoua was played into space by junior Diego Guttierrez. Noutoua’s following shot was narrowly saved by Denver goalie Will Palmquist and went out for a corner.

All of Omaha’s missed chances would count for little though, as Denver’s Preston Judd shot from distance in the 29th minute of the match would take a deflection off an Omaha defender and find its way into the net.

The narrow lead would be enough for the Pioneers, as the team dropped back into a more defensive formation in the second half and let Omaha control the large portion of possession.

In the second half of the game, the Mavericks did create a few chances for themselves with all the possession they had but failed to create any real danger for the Pioneers to deal with.

So, when the clock hit zero, it was the Denver Pioneers who found themselves winning a second consecutive Summit League Tournament title. As for the Mavericks, they had to watch the other Pioneers celebrate for the second consecutive year.

Now for the Pioneers, the focus lies on preparing for the NCAA Tournament and the possibility of springing a few upsets in the competition. Meanwhile, the Mavericks now face the offseason. Omaha will likely have the fire to fuel them to make sure that next time around, they’re the ones lifting the trophy.