Last year, in a three-day span, the Omaha women’s soccer team had to play South Dakota State and Denver back to back.
Those two games would prove to be some of the biggest in program history, as the Mavericks beat the Jackrabbits 3-1 in the Summit League tournament semifinals, before falling to the Pioneers in the finals.
This year, the Summit League regular season provided a slight sense of déjà vu as the Mavericks again played South Dakota State and Denver back to back again, this time within the span of five days.
Just like last season, South Dakota State and Denver were the two best teams in the Summit League. Unlike last season, the Mavericks had the home advantage for both of these games.
Playing at Caniglia Field on Oct. 13, the Jackrabbits came to town on the back of an eight-game winning streak. Perhaps more impressive though, was the fact that South Dakota State had not conceded one goal during that streak. They would leave Omaha with that record intact as they picked up a 2-0 win.
Outside of the overall score, the game between the two teams was very even on the field. Both the Mavericks and the Jackrabbits were even on shots with nine each. South Dakota State proved to be just a bit more clinical with their finishing, as they had two more shots on target (five versus three) than the Mavericks. Two of those shots, coming from Maya Hansen in the 17th minute and Eden Booker in the 30th minute, were all that made the difference in the match.
While they couldn’t again pull an upset on South Dakota State like they did last year, the Mavericks were hoping that their game against Denver might prove to be a different story. On Oct. 17, with only three days in between games to prepare, the Mavericks took on the Pioneers.
Despite the upset-minded Mavericks, this game would end the same way as the South Dakota State match, with a score of 2-0 for Denver. Statistically and on the field, this match wasn’t as close as the previous game. Denver scored early on in the second minute of the game with a goal from Camryn MacMillan and would continue to keep up the pressure for the rest of the match. Overall, the Pioneers outshot the Mavericks 17-2. One of those shots would find the net again in the 63rd minute, as Natalie Beckman tacked on an insurance goal for the Pioneers.
While these games were certainly tough losses for the Mavericks, they were games that Omaha could afford to lose. As long as South Dakota State and Denver continue to win in Summit League play, then the Mavericks should still have every opportunity to make the Summit League tournament. The game that could decide the Mavericks’ fate will be their last home game of the season on Oct. 20 against Oral Roberts.
After that, the Mavericks will hit the road for their final three games of the season as they take on South Dakota, North Dakota and Purdue Fort Wayne. Should the Mavericks win those final three games of the season, then their return to Brookings, South Dakota, should be secured. So, despite the early season losses, Omaha still controls their fate, but their room for error is minimal.