Positive mentality paying off as Mavericks enter stretch run of ‘long season’

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Jordan McAlpine
SPORTS EDITOR

Freshman Sophia Green leads the Mavericks with five goals through the first 14 games. Photo courtesy of Omaha Athletics.

Omaha women’s soccer head coach Tim Walters knew it was going to be a long, grueling spring, so the fourth-year head coach wasn’t sure what type of team he’d see late in the season. So far, his group has handled it well

“I think we’ve done a good job of keeping a positive mentality and have continued to grow all season,” Walters said. “We’ve come back from a couple goals down a few times this season, we’ve won games on the road, and I think that’s a testament to the mentality within our group.

“I just want to see us keep expanding on that, and it’s now more important than ever since the last couple games we have coming up are critical.”

At 7-4-3, Walters group has only two games remaining on their regular season schedule, a home series against Western Illinois. The Mavericks currently sit in third place in the Summit League standings with 24 points.

Only the top four teams qualify for the conference tournament, which Omaha will host this year. Although a spot isn’t secured yet, Walters likes the way his group is playing heading into the final weekend of regular season play.

“I think we’re playing some of our soccer right now, which is important, but at the same time it’s been a long and physically draining season,” he said. “A lot of players have had to play a lot of minutes, but everyone is going through it.”

Draining indeed. Once the Mavericks wrap up the two-game set against WIU, Omaha will have finished a stretch of 16 games in eight weeks. That spans across February, March and early April.

“It’s been a very full month or two with a lot of games,” Walters said. “We’re a little tired and it’s been a lot of work, but it’s been exciting and we’ve done very well. We’re in a pretty positive mood heading into the last part of the season here and we’re happy with where we are at, but every day is an opportunity to get better. So we’ve been taking it one day at a time.”

A big part of the Mavericks being in the position they’re currently in is due to the emergence of their underclassmen. It’s something Walters said he knew would have to be the case in order for his team to have success this season.

“We almost didn’t have a choice,” he said. “We only have two seniors on the roster, so we knew some players were going to have to step up, but we had some freshmen we thought could really help us.

“Whether that’s Sophia Green or Grace Ostergaard in the middle, or Jordyn West, we’ve had some freshmen that have done a great job. We’ve also had a couple redshirt freshmen in Regan Zimmers and Grace Thede who have also played a lot of minutes.”

Those minutes and the mental toughness will surely get tested even more down the stretch. At the same time, this is the part of the season they’ve all been working towards.

“We’ll never have a season this long,” Walters said. “We’re talking about a shortened condensed amount of games, but realistically, the season started in July. We’ve been preparing for this since July, but now we’re to the point of the season that we were looking forward to the most since everything means so much in these last couple weeks.

“It’s been long, but it’s been rewarding. Hopefully we finish it off strong. Because when you put in all of this work, you want to be rewarded at the end of it.”

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