Women’s Soccer Rides Hot Streak to Conference Championship Game

Brylie Meyer prepares to inbound the soccer ball during the first half of the Summit League Championship on Nov. 3. Photo courtesy Kenneth Pancake.

Drake Foss

The season saw the Omaha women’s soccer team start 0-4-1. But the rest of the season has truly shown the magic made in Omaha.

The mavericks started out shaky – they posted a record of 2-6-1 in their first nine games. But a resilient Omaha team would go on to win 5 more games, going 5-4-1 to finish out the season. They would finish with four wins out of their last six games.

When asked to summarize his team’s season, Head Coach Tim Walters responded, “Building block, with a hyphen.”

“I thought it was a building block for the future… a step in the right direction,” Walters said.

On the last day of the regular season, Omaha played a nail biter that ended in victory against Western Illinois 2-1. With the loss of North Dakota, UNO was rewarded with the last spot in the 2018 Summit League women’s soccer tournament (the first in the program’s history).

“Being ranked seventh in our preseason rankings and then finishing second shows that we are here to compete,” said sophomore forward Bailey Cascio. “It took a little bit of our season to finally find our play, but once that was accomplished… it just came down to who wanted to win the game more – us or our opponents.”

The Mavericks would go on to defeat top-ranked South Dakota State on their own turf. Cascio would be the hero Omaha needed, as she would score three goals to secure a hat trick when it mattered the most. This win secured Omaha a spot in their first-ever championship match against the Denver Pioneers.

The streak would not hold up however, as the Denver Pioneers defeated the Omaha squad 4-0 on Nov. 3. Denver outshot the Mavs 25-4. Still, the team claims a come-from-behind effort that brought them all the way to the Summit League Championship game.

“Really proud of my team, and how we did,” Walters said after the game. “We just ran out of gas today… but I think coming up here and knocking off South Dakota State, making the conference tournament… we should hold our heads high.”

In the finals match, goalie Erin Bunker made ten saves allowing four goals from 25 attempts put forward by a powerful Denver team.

Cascio stood out for the Mavs during the season, putting up ridiculous numbers this season with seven goals, three assists, and 17 overall points.

Other goal leaders for Omaha were Emily Romero with three, and Kiana Dualan with two. Andrea Daves led the team in assists with six. Bunker ended the season on a high note as she finished with a 7-6-1 record and led the goalkeepers in saves with 58, with a total of four shutouts over the course of the season.

The season was the most successful for the women’s soccer program in Division I history, marked by significant contributions from underclassmen. Despite the defeat, the team has much to look forward to in the future.

“The amount of things we have improved on just can’t be matched,” Cascio said. “It really puts me at ease that things just keep looking up from here.”