Seniors lead men's soccer to a season-ending high through victory
Published: Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Updated: Sunday, January 19, 2014 15:01
The Mavericks soccer club finished with the most wins in the three year history of the program this year after a nail biter of a 2-1 victory on Friday over Incarnate Word. However the season did not start off quite as nicely as it ended.
To start the season off, the Mavericks won only one of their first seven games. Many of those games were close losses and ties, something that Coach Jason Mims recognized as being caused by sometimes not being mentally tough enough, something he said that they needed to improve upon in the next season
“I think mentality and stuff like we talked about, you know, losing games in the last minute, losing games one nothing where you dominate statistically. I think those things aren’t physical things, so I think we have to improve our mental toughness on this team. I think we have to expect to win and to not lose those close games we have to have that tough mentality,” Mims said.
Even late into the season, the Mavericks struggled with losing close games. At their debut at Caniglia Field on Oct. 26, they took a heartbreaking loss to Oral Roberts, when the game winning goal was put in with just 20 seconds left. However, it was hardly all bad that day as the crowd blew away anything that had been seen at Chilli Green that season.
Mims commented that day that it was no longer like they were “playing at three in the afternoon on a Tuesday at Chilli Greens with family and friends only” and that the Mavericks “actually do have a home field advantage now.”
“I just hope at this point everyone starts fearing coming to Omaha,” said goalie Matt Grosey about the new atmosphere.
It also in some ways looked like a turning point for the season as the Mavericks pushed out three straight wins after the game.
Mims, when asked about their overall record and strong finish, touched on how it’s not always about winning games but doing the right things to be in winning position.
“We’ve had a lot of close games. We’ve lost three games with under a minute left to go in the game. We’ve lost a couple of overtime games so yeah, whether you call it bad luck, we just have to be tougher. Those are things that are going to occur with a young program,” Mims said. “I told these guys from day one that it’s not about our record right now. It’s about us getting this program better and better each year. We’ve got to play a good style of soccer. We’ve got to work hard, and we’ve got to be championship ready by 2015.”
The Mavericks were picked to finish fourth this season in the Summit League preseason poll, and did exceed expectations somewhat by finishing third, with a 3-3 record in summit league play.
“I think just our overall depth, our overall experience,” Mims said when asked about where their improvement came from. “Some of the new guys that came in, that recruiting class was better than the year before, just like that class was better than the year before. I think some of it too is confidence. We had the ball in a lot of our games this year, where last year we defended it long portions of games, even games that we won. This year, we have the ball a lot more than other teams, even in games that we’ve lost, so that’s a huge improvement from a year ago.”
That improvement was on showcase in their final game against Incarnate Word. If the game against Oral Roberts was a low point, this game, which fell on senior’s day, was likely it’s counterpoint.
The Mavericks took the lead early in the game when senior Greg Buettner scored a goal into the left corner from about 20 yards out. It was his third goal of the season.
Incarnate Word struck back late into the first half when a free kicked was played into the box.
“It felt good once we got that lead, and Craig put us up that one goal,” Matt Grosey said. “They landed that one in right before the half; it kind of put our heads down. We went into the locker room talked to the guys and got their hopes back up. They realized, hey, we have 45 more minutes. It’s one, last game of the year, let’s go out hard.”