Halfway up the Summit: Omaha women’s soccer team already halfway through their Summit League schedule

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Jordan McAlpine
SPORTS EDITOR

Through the first six games, Hannah Heinemann leads Omaha with four goals this season. In those six, the Mavericks are 2-2-2. Their next series at South Dakota will already mark the halfway point of the season. Photo courtesy of Omaha Athletics.

It feels like just yesterday the Omaha women’s soccer team was getting ready to finally start their 2021 season. Just as soon as it began though, the end is already starting to draw near.

“It’s crazy,” said head coach Tim Walters. “We were waiting around for a year to play games, but we finally get started, and just like that, you’re almost halfway through the season. It’s exciting though because every game counts and every game is so important in this conference.”

Through the first six games of their 16-game schedule, the Mavericks find themselves at 2-2-2. That includes a pair of shutout wins over North Dakota, 5-0 and 2-0 respectively, and a pair of scoreless ties against South Dakota State. Both of those games required overtime.

Omaha grabbed a 4-0 exhibition victory at Missouri Western at the end of January, but besides that, Walters and his group had to dive straight into the deep end so-to-speak. The 2021 schedule has consisted of only Summit League games.

It was a little bit challenging not having the typical five or six non-conference games to start the season. So far though, the young Omaha roster has been up for the challenge.

“I was really happy with how we played those first two weeks,” Walters said. “It’s a group that is probably a little disappointed and feels like they should’ve got more out of last weekend than they did, but I think in general it’s a pretty confident group right now and they’re playing well.

“We also have a lot of new pieces and they’ve had to mesh together quickly, but I think they’ve answered that call so far.”

In addition to the hurdle of meshing together quickly, another change in the early going has been adjusting to the schedule. Soccer has transitioned to playing two-game series this spring to limit exposure and reduce travel. Walters described it as more of a hockey-like schedule.

Because of that, the head coach has leaned on former hockey head coach and current senior associate athletic director Mike Kemp to pick his brain about finding a balance and managing emotions in these games.

“Now you’re dealing with emotions and playing with tired legs in the second game,” Walters said. “It’s more of a hockey mode and we’ve had to learn how to better control those to prepare for games. It’s a tricky spring, it’s something we’ll hopefully never experience again, but everybody is going through it.

“It’s been a challenge, but it’s a great opportunity for us.”

That challenge won’t get any easier, but Walters knows it will be an exciting finish. Only the top four teams reach the Summit League Tournament. Omaha is currently in fifth place in the standings.

“It’s going to come quick with a lot of games and busy weekends, and there’s not a whole lot of time for practice,” he said. “We’re also really excited to get back out and play on our home field.”

The two-game set at South Dakota will be the Mavericks’ first time outdoors this season. Game two of that series will also mark at the halfway point of the regular season. Omaha opens at home on the following Friday, March 12, at 7 p.m. against Oral Roberts.

It feels like just yesterday the Omaha women’s soccer team was getting ready to finally start their 2021 season. Just as soon as it began though, the end is already starting to draw near.

“It’s crazy,” said head coach Tim Walters. “We were waiting around for a year to play games, but we finally get started, and just like that, you’re almost halfway through the season. It’s exciting though because every game counts and every game is so important in this conference.”

Through the first six games of their 16-game schedule, the Mavericks find themselves at 2-2-2. That includes a pair of shutout wins over North Dakota, 5-0 and 2-0 respectively, and a pair of scoreless ties against South Dakota State. Both of those games required overtime.

Omaha grabbed a 4-0 exhibition victory at Missouri Western at the end of January, but besides that, Walters and his group had to dive straight into the deep end so-to-speak. The 2021 schedule has consisted of only Summit League games.

It was a little bit challenging not having the typical five or six non-conference games to start the season. So far though, the young Omaha roster has been up for the challenge.

“I was really happy with how we played those first two weeks,” Walters said. “It’s a group that is probably a little disappointed and feels like they should’ve got more out of last weekend than they did, but I think in general it’s a pretty confident group right now and they’re playing well.

“We also have a lot of new pieces and they’ve had to mesh together quickly, but I think they’ve answered that call so far.”

In addition to the hurdle of meshing together quickly, another change in the early going has been adjusting to the schedule. Soccer has transitioned to playing two-game series this spring to limit exposure and reduce travel. Walters described it as more of a hockey-like schedule.

Because of that, the head coach has leaned on former hockey head coach and current senior associate athletic director Mike Kemp to pick his brain about finding a balance and managing emotions in these games.

“Now you’re dealing with emotions and playing with tired legs in the second game,” Walters said. “It’s more of a hockey mode and we’ve had to learn how to better control those to prepare for games. It’s a tricky spring, it’s something we’ll hopefully never experience again, but everybody is going through it.

“It’s been a challenge, but it’s a great opportunity for us.”

That challenge won’t get any easier, but Walters knows it will be an exciting finish. Only the top four teams reach the Summit League Tournament. Omaha is currently in fifth place in the standings.

“It’s going to come quick with a lot of games and busy weekends, and there’s not a whole lot of time for practice,” he said. “We’re also really excited to get back out and play on our home field.”

The two-game set at South Dakota will be the Mavericks first time outdoors this season. Game two of that series will also mark at the halfway point of the regular season. Omaha opens at home on the following Friday, March 12, at 7 p.m. against Oral Roberts.

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