It’s crazy to think that just four months ago, the Omaha women’s soccer team was playing in the Summit League Championship during a season that was pushed to the spring due to COVID-19. After a short turnaround this summer, the Mavericks have already flipped the page to their fall 2021 season, which is right around the corner.
As a group that returns with 11 starters from last season, there’s a lot of excitement heading into this fall.
“I think we’ve got a confident group,” said head coach Tim Walters. “We lost one player to graduation last year, but that’s it, so we’re bringing back a lot of depth with a group that’s coming off a pretty good season. We’re still young, but I like the group we have and we’re hoping to go one step further.”
On top of losing just one player from last season, six more will be added to the fold this fall, all of which Walters said could contribute right away. The 18-game regular season slate starts Aug. 19 against Northern Iowa in what will be the first of eight home games.
The Mavericks were 5-0-3 in home games and 3-0-1 at Caniglia Field during the regular season last spring, all of which were against Summit League opponents. This fall, nine of those 18 games will be in conference play. It won’t be an easy task.
“It’s going to be another long season with a lot of games in a short period of time,” Walters said. “We’ve been approaching the fall preseason a little bit different this year with the short turnaround and are easing back into things more than usual, but we know what’s ahead. Especially with the competition we’ll face in our conference.
“We don’t need to be at our peak in August, we need to be there when we hit October.”
The Mavericks played 16 games in 51 days from Feb. 12 to April 4, including eight consecutive weekends. They still finished 8-4-4 in conference play, good for third in the Summit League standings, and ultimately fell just short, losing to Denver in the championship game.
With nearly all of the same group back, they’ll try to build off their successful spring.
“We bring a lot of players back so we haven’t exactly been reinventing the wheel this fall, but we’ve just been trying to continue where we left off in April,” Walters said. “Practices have been good, the energy levels have been great and everyone is happy to be back together, so I really like what I’ve seen from the group so far.”
The head coach hopes to learn more about his team in the weeks leading up to his season and once non-conference action begins. Like any team, the obvious goal is to win as many games as possible, but the end goal is the same as any other year.
“The biggest thing every year is to get to the conference tournament,” Walters said. “Once you get there, anything can happen. Having a chance to win a trophy at the end of the day is what we really play for, so I hope we’re playing for a trophy in early November.”