It’s often said that there are no moral victories in sports.
At the end of the day, players either find themselves as winners, losers or, occasionally, as “draw-ers.”
However, for Omaha women’s soccer, when they played the No. 20 Memphis Tigers on Sunday Sept. 1, it seemed that they came awfully close to getting a moral victory.
The match itself started well enough for the Mavericks. They were coming off an overtime win against Northern Iowa, so team confidence was high. Omaha’s opponent, the Tigers, presented a tougher task, however, as they were ranked in the top 25 of the nation.
Possession of play was exchanged fairly evenly for the first 10 minutes of the game, with perhaps a slight edge given to the Tigers. As the game went on, that possession started to go heavily in favor of the Tigers. The Mavericks were content for the most part to sit back on defense and let Memphis attack.
The Tigers did create a number of scoring chances, but nothing came off for them until the 32nd minute of the game. Memphis’ Serena Dolan hit a powerful strike from the top of the box that found its way into the Maverick goal.
That goal would be the difference between the two teams as the game went to halftime.
The second half wouldn’t bring much change, as again the Tigers controlled the possession while the Mavericks sat back and waited to counterattack.
Not much action was to be found in the second half, although there was a straight red card for Omaha goalie Erin Bunker in the last minute of the game. Bunker was ejected for bringing down Memphis’ Clarissa Larisey in an attempt to stop a goal-scoring opportunity for Memphis.
In the end though, neither team would find a goal in the second half, and the game ended 1-0 in favor of the Tigers.
While the Mavericks were on the losing end against Memphis, the game was far different from last season’s game against the Tigers that ended in a 4-0 loss. The Mavericks were outshot in that game 20-2.
The defense for the Mavericks this time looked as strong and compact as it has ever been. Out of 14 shots taken by Memphis in this game, only three of those were put on frame. The Omaha backline did a tremendous job of putting pressure on Memphis and making sure they had to settle for more difficult shots.
So, while the loss may have been tough, the Mavericks can take pride in knowing that they were able to hang around with one of the best teams in the nation. Going forward in the remainder of the season, this knowledge can only give the team added confidence.
Omaha will be back in action on Friday, Sept. 6 when they take on Ball State at home. The game can be streamed live on OMavs.com or listened to on MavRadio.fm.