Five great moments in UNO’s Division I History

Hockey v Colorado College
Photo courtesy of UNO Communications. Nov. 05, 2016
Drake Foss

In the fall of 2011, UNO began the process of upgrading their athletic program to NCAA Division I status. Any school will tell you that it’s no easy process. Now, 7 years later, The Gateway is taking a look back to name the 5 biggest moments in UNO’s Division I era – so far.

The men’s soccer team goes dancing: The 2017 season for men’s soccer had its ups and downs but had no bigger up than winning the league last November. The Mavericks had a hard-fought battle against the Denver Pioneers that couldn’t be settled in regulation. With a 1-1 score, the match went to penalties, and both teams went back and forth until a save from goalkeeper Joseph Ghitis led the way for Emmanuel Hamzat to send the Pioneers packing – and send the Mavericks to the NCAA Division I tournament.

UNO hockey’s Frozen Four run: No season for UNO hockey was better than the 2014-2015 season, which saw the Mavericks boast an impressive 20-13-6 record – good enough to get them an automatic bid into the NCAA hockey tournament. The Mavericks fought some very formidable foes in the regional rounds such as Harvard and RIT. The Mavericks won against both teams with ease, defeating Harvard 4-1 and RIT 4-0. This would send the Mavs to the Frozen Four for the first time in UNO hockey history. Although they would lose to the eventual champions (Providence), it showed the world that the Mavericks were not to be messed with.

Elvir Ibisevic’s miraculous 10-minute hat trick: In late August of 2017, The Mavericks’ soccer team faced a 17th-ranked powerhouse – Virginia Tech. Elvir Ibisevic was out of the gate faster than a racehorse, scoring his first goal only four minutes into the match, off of a beautiful shot from the top of the box. Three minutes later Ibisevic had another opportunity to score and he didn’t squander it, putting in a header from an outstanding cross by Emmanuel Hamzat to put the Mavericks up 2-0. The final goal came off a penalty kick, awarded to the Mavericks. Ibisevic knocked it in, giving him one of the fastest hat tricks in NCAA soccer history. The Mavericks would go on to win, 5-1.

Introduction of legendary soccer coach Bob Warming: After the amazing 2017 season that UNO men’s soccer had, it was a shock when it was announced that Jason Mims would not return as head coach. The speculation surrounding his replacement started immediately. In early April of the following spring, the university announced that they had come to terms with legendary coach Bob Warming. Formerly, Warming was the head coach of Creighton University men’s soccer. His presence has bolstered interest from fans all over Omaha, and in UNO’s first preseason exhibition match against Creighton.

Jake Guentzel wins the Stanley Cup: Jake Guentzel was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins 77th overall in the 2013 NHL entry draft; however, he decided to stay and finish his education at UNO. Once he finally arrived in the league, Guentzel was an unstoppable force, scoring 16 goals and 17 assists in 40 games his rookie season. He went on to score 13 goals and 8 assists in 25 games as the Penguins would end up winning their second straight cup. In his sophomore season, Guentzel scored 22 goals, and 26 assists in 82 games played. The Penguins’ dreams for a three-peat were shattered by the eventual cup-winning Washington Capitals in the playoffs. Guentzel however, was on a hot streak, scoring 10 goals and 11 assists in only 12 games played.