Sometimes in soccer, moments seem like they are ripped off the pages of a movie script.
When the Omaha men’s soccer team took on Columbia University on Friday, Sept. 6, this seemed to be just the case.
Coming off a season-opening road trip to California that took the Mavericks to an 0-2 start this season, the team was desperately looking for a win against Columbia.
Luckily for Omaha, things got off to a flying start in the game. In just the third minute of the game, junior Diego Gutierrez hit a one-time finish off a cross from sophomore Martin Veys. The thunderous strike left the Columbia goalkeeper with no chance, and the Mavericks scored their first goal of the game and of the season.
After the fast start, the rest of the first half proved to be a low-key affair. Both Columbia and Omaha created a few chances, but nothing that proved to be too dangerous.
The game continued that way into the second half, until things changed for the Mavericks in the 71st minute. After colliding with a player from Columbia, senior goalkeeper Ugo Tritz was forced to leave the game with a head injury. He was replaced by junior Jeremy Pollard, who was playing his first competitive minutes for Omaha.
The absence of Tritz, often a commanding presence for the Omaha backline, seemed to leave the defense in a bit of a lurch. Then, in the 79th minute, Columbia’s Sebastian Gunbeyi took advantage of some defensive miscues as he equalized for the Lions. Regulation time ended with the scores even at 1-1.
The additional overtime periods were where the drama really began in the match. In the 98th minute, Columbia goalkeeper Michael Collodi was issued a red card for impeding a goal scoring opportunity.
Collodi’s backup that would come into the match, senior Eric Chang, had never played a minute of competitive college soccer before. Yet, on the ensuing free kick that came as a result of the red card, Chang made a spectacular save to keep his team in the game.
That would not be the end of Chang’s heroics, however. In the second overtime period, near the end of the game, Chang again made a great save to deny a free kick opportunity from Omaha. Thanks to Chang’s goalkeeping, Columbia escaped Omaha with a 1-1 draw.
Omaha remains on the hunt for its first win of the season. At the time of print, Omaha will have taken on UNLV on Monday, Sept. 9. After that, the Mavericks have another game at home against the Big 10’s Michigan on Friday, Sept. 13. The game can be streamed online at OMavs.com or listened to online at MavRadio.fm.