Denver Falls to Omaha in 2 OT’s and 11 Round Shootout 1-1 (9/8)

Denver faced a sky high Omaha team with an NCAA birth on the line at Caniglia Field Saturday afternoon. It was a physical, tense game as the two teams traded punches in a highly physical match.

DU had the best of the first few minutes but the best chance came early at 10:49 on a direct kick from UNO’s Xavier Gomez from above the box. His shot went directly into DU’s defensive wall. At 23:29, the game got chippy when Xavier Gomex picked up a yellow for stepping on DU’s Ryan Barlow after a foul. Then, at 25:42, the Pioneers Scott DeVoss took advantage of some disorganization in the box and slipped the ball past all-conference goalie Joseph Ghitis, DU 1-0. But UNO countered quickly with a breakout that led to a penalty kick on a tripping foul by DU’s Tosh Samkange in the box. After a long approach and stutter step, Xavier Gomez tucked the ball into the left corner of the frame to knot the match, 1-1. Several minutes later, at 32:10, DU’s Kenny Akamatsu got the ball in the box and made a dangerous turn and shot opportunity from 10 yards out – but the shot went high over the crossbar. The teams spent the rest of the half battling at midfield with no serious threats. The half ended 1-1. Denver led in shots 5-4 but Omaha had the advantage on shots on goal 3-2.

That left 45 minutes of action to determine the Summit League champion and NCAA representative.

The second half was tense with end-to-end action. Exhausted DU and Omaha sides made some uncharacteristic turnovers on poor passes but still Denver maintained most of the possession. The physical play continued when, at 67:02, DU’s AJ Fuller received a yellow card on a hard foul against Brahan Gamarra. As the half advanced, Maverick pressure effected DU and solid wing play created several opportunities for UNO. The biggest threat from the Mavericks was at 74:23 when UNO hit the crossbar after driving down the left side of the field.

In the first overtime, Andre Shinyashiki rolled the ball across the goal on a nifty end line move but UNO knocked it out for a corner at 92:28. Denver could not take advantage of the following corner. Denver controlled possession and Omaha had very few opportunities to seize the momentum as the teams remained even.

During the second OT, Kenny Akimatsu took a spectacular shot but it was wide to the left. UNO countered and an Emmanual Hamzat shot was stopped by a slick Nick Gardner save. Later, Akimatsu took another volley from above the box but a diving Ghetis pushed the shot wide to the left. The Pioneers had the Mavs reeling the rest of the second overtime period but could not deliver the kill-shot to end the contest.

The game went to a shootout – the best of five. It went much longer – to eleven tense rounds.

DU – Underwood – Good

UNO – Hamzat – Good

DU – Smalley – Good

UNO – Gomez – Good

DU – Smith – Good

UNO – Weiler – Good

DU – Stensson – Good

UNO – Ghitis – Good

DU – Shinyashiki – Miss

UNO – Ibisevic – Miss

DU – Fuller – Good

UNO – Gutierrez – Good

DU – Morlack – Good

UNO – Nelson – Good

DU – Akimatsu – Miss

UNO – Woods – Miss

DU – Elder – Good

UNO – M. Gomez – Good

DU – Barlow – Good

UNO – Bowman – Good

DU – Smith – Miss

UNO – Hamzat – Good

Game over, season over. A great effort that, unfortunately, was won on kicks and not on the field of play.