Hopes for a special season: Men’s soccer preview


Jack Hoover

Men’s soccer head coach Bob Warming. Photo Courtesy of University Communications

Omaha men’s soccer head coach Bob Warming has coached many successful teams in his career.

As a coach at Creighton University, he led his team to the College Cup in 2002. In 1997, he did the same with his team at Saint Louis University. Both of those were remarkable feats accomplished by remarkable teams.

But, to hear Warming talk about the team he has assembled this year at UNO, one might believe that this could be his best squad yet. At least, that’s what he said in his pre-season press conference.

It seems like it might be hard to disagree. The Mavericks have a core group of players to rely upon and seem to be strong up and down the field this season. The sky very well could be the limit for Omaha.

With what could potentially be a special season set to kick off soon, here are a few things to watch for from Maverick soccer.

Added offensive weapons
Before the start of last season, Maverick soccer was presented with a bit of a problem. The team only had one true striker listed on their roster: sophomore Elvir Ibisevic. However, before the season started, Ibisevic made the decision to pursue a professional career in Slovenia.

The effects of not having a true striker were easy to see last season. This year, things look to be different. The Mavericks appear to have two solid options up top, in the form of freshman Andreas Hermansson and junior transfer Aaron Uribe.

If nothing else, the addition of these two players should take the workload off of wingers Martin Veys and Diego Gutierrez. Last season, both were asked to play as strikers at times, despite being most capable in the wide areas of the field.

With a capable striker who can finish the chances created by Gutierrez and Veys, the Maverick attack should be much more lethal than it was last season.

Key Returners
The Mavericks ended last season with a close 1-0 loss to the Denver Pioneers in the Summit League Championship game. Of the 11 players who started that game, only two (Denzel Woods and Noor Hamadi) won’t be returning to the team this season. In fact, those two are the only players that the Mavericks lost to graduation last season.

Of the players returning for Omaha this season, none might be as important as senior Cole Nelson. Nelson wasn’t even involved in last season’s Summit League championship, as he was out most of the season due to injury. Now, back in what will be his fifth year at Omaha, Nelson will be a key figure in controlling the midfield.

Another returner to keep an eye on is senior goalkeeper Ugo Tritz. Tritz only won the starting goalkeeper job last season, but, since winning the role, he has been more than capable for the Mavericks. In the Summit League championship game last season, Tritz produced five saves in what was essentially a “man-of-the-match” performance for the Mavericks. This season, Tritz will be an important leader for the Omaha backline.

Dodge Street Derby
This year, there are quite a few gems on the Omaha men’s soccer schedule. On Sept. 2, the team will be travelling to the West Coast to play No. 11 Saint Mary’s College. Then, on Sept. 13, the Mavericks will be traveling back home to take on another nationally ranked team in No. 24 Michigan.

The real match-up that sticks out, however, is the return of the Dodge Street Derby. After taking a quick break last season (although an exhibition match was contested between the two teams last year), the game between Omaha and Creighton will be making its competitive return this season.

The match will take place on Sept. 16 at Creighton’s Morrison Stadium. Additionally, this match will be a homecoming of sorts for coach Warming, who coached Creighton from 1990-1994 and from 2001-2009. This game will be Warming’s first competitive game in Morrison Stadium as the opposing coach.

Omaha will open their season on Aug. 30 away against the University of California, Berkeley. The Mavericks home opener will be on Sept. 6 against Columbia University. That game can be viewed online at OMavs.com or listened to at mavradio.fm.