Photo: Denver plays host to the UNO at CIBER Field Saturday night
The dust had hardly settled on their first conference win this past weekend when Omaha Mavericks (8-4-2, 1-0-2 Summit) head coach Jason Mims told omaha.com, “Guys are always excited when we go to Denver. Denver (8-6-1 overall, 3-0-0 Summit) is always a good team. It’s always a hard place to play at, but I think our guys are always ready for that challenge. They know it’ll be a battle.”
Omaha is defending their regular season Summit League title from last season when they earned the title on a tiebreaker (conference goal differential) against DU.
UNO’s only conference “W” was against Western Illinois (2-1-0 Summit) this past weekend. The most damaging results were Summit League draws against Eastern Illinois and IPFW. Since falling to local rival Creighton during non-conference play, the Mav’s went nearly a month without victory.
Mav soccer title defense is on the respirator, trailing both the Pioneers and Western Illinois with only two games to go – potentially making the upcoming Summit League Championship at Caniglia Field a one-time-event for the Mavs. However, barring a tournament upset in Omaha, UNO is likely to get another shot at the Pioneers.
In Saturday night’s contest (7:00 PM MT) in Denver, UNO will be shorthanded with the loss of midfielder Xavier Gomez (7 assists, 3 goals) who will not be on the Denver pitch while holding 5 yellow cards. Elvir Ibisevic leads the Mavs in scoring with 8 goals and one assist this season – 6 goals coming in non-conference action.
The Pioneers last match against UNO was the Summit League Tournament in Denver a year ago. DU out-shot the Mavericks 18-6 for the game and controlled the tempo of play but still Omaha took a 1-0 lead. Denver trailed by a goal but knotted the game in the second half (74th minute) and Andre Shinyashiki finished off the Mavericks with a goal with 41 seconds remaining for the win.
Video: Mims reacts to their last-second loss at Ciber Field last season.
This year’s Pioneer squad lost several key starters from last season but the team is rounding into shape, winning three of their last four games. Shinyashiki leads the Pioneers with 8 goals and 4 assists. Graham Smith has chipped in with 2 goals and 4 assists.
A win or a draw by the Pioneers would seal Omaha’s regular season fate and likely bring the conference tournament back to Denver next season. Denver’s final regular season tilt is on the road November 4th against Western Illinois (2-1-0), currently in second place, only one game behind Denver.