Monday, November 16, 2009

Lots of happenings lately

Sorry for the delay. I had a small bout with some sort of illness last week, but I have since recovered.

Let's catch up with a rather busy week in sports, shall we?

Class A State Football

It's that time again for high school football around the state.

Actually, it's been that time for the last few weeks. Championship games are being determined throughout the state, but we already know the most important game: the Class A Championship between Millard South and Millard West. Again.

The two teams met in 2008 for the Class A State Championship, with the Wildcats of Millard West pulling out a 21-8 victory. Millard South will have their chance at redemption Nov. 23rd at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

Millard South goes to the state title game after defeating Elkhorn 36-17 on Saturday. Millard West defeated Lincoln Southwest 35-14 in their semifinal game.

The Patriots of Millard South are undefeated and are poised to win the title behind one of the most dominating offenses in recent memory. Senior quarterback Bronson Marsh is having one of the better years for a Nebraska quarterback.

I tend to think that the Patriots' offense gives them the edge in the title game, but there's no guarantees in a state championship game, especially between two rivals. It should be a fun one.

It's an All-Millard championship game for the second year in a row, but, while I'm not a big fan of that, Millard is where the premier Metro talent is right now. Until the Omaha Public Schools' middle school football programs kick in for a few years, I'm expecting more championship games without any OPS schools.

UNO's soccer season ends in first-round playoff loss

The Mavericks' soccer team had an impressive season come to an end on Friday when they lost in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament 1-0 to conference rival Truman State.

UNO finished the year 13-6-2 overall and 12-2-2 in the MIAA.

The Mavs were fortunate to gain a postseason berth after losing in the season-finale to Central Missouri. UNO had a chance to win the conference outright, but they lost to the Jennies 1-0.

When asked why the Mavs' offense struggled, head coach Don Klosterman told me that, while Truman played good defense, the field itself was more narrow than the fields UNO played on throughout the season.

That's right. Somehow, the NCAA rules allow fields to be widened or shortened at the whim of...who knows? Don wasn't quite sure, and I'm still not sure. Why would anyone want to make the field more narrow?

Whatever the reason (I'm siding with a conspiracy against UNO, by the way), the Mavs were unable to get any offensive continuity. They finished with only two shots in the game and, according to the stats, only had 1 corner kick. They were also never flagged for offsides which, in my opinion, is a sign that the offense was never really threatening.

Despite the loss of four seniors, including forward Jessica Powers (who finished 2nd on the team in goals and assists), the Mavs will return plenty of playmakers for next year, including the 2009 MIAA Player of the Year Nicole Baier.

Volleyball heading to the NCAA Tournament

Despite losses in their last three games, the UNO women's volleyball team will be participating in the NCAA Division II tournament.

The Mavs earned a #7 overall seed in the South Central Region after a 20-13 season overall and a 10-10 conference campaign.

The volleyball team will be making their 6th straight appearance in the NCAA tournament and their 19th overall. The Mavs won the national championship in 1996.

The Mavs came up short in their final regular-season game, losing to #5 Central Missouri 3-2 in what was one of the better-played games of the season. UNO fell behind 2-0 but battled back with impressive wins in sets 3 and 4 to tie the match. The Mavs went on to lose in the 5th set by a 15-10 score.

UNO will now play MIAA rival Washburn in the tournament beginning Nov. 19. The Mavs are 1-1 against Washburn this year, with a 3-2 victory coming at home on Sept. 23 and a 3-0 loss on Oct. 28.

Midnight Madness for Men's Basketball

The UNO men's basketball team opened the season at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning against Doane. That's right, tip-off was after the stroke of midnight. The NCAA allowed teams to begin regular-season competition on Sunday, so UNO took advantage by playing the first minute they could - kind of like how I waited in line and bought Modern Warfare 2 after midnight this Tuesday (me and 23857293857329 other people. That game's insanely popular..)

UNO had a slow start, but they eventually overcame their shooting slump to win the game 96-67. They shot a sizzling 60% in the second half, including making 8 of their first 9 shots.

Jeff Martin led the Mavs with 18 points, going 5-9 from beyond the 3-point line. It appears Martin will be a major factor in the Mavericks' offense, especially after the transfer of 2008 leading scorer Mitch Albers.

Hockey splits another series, this time with Lake Superior State

The Mavs split their series with Lake Superior State this past weekend, going 1-1 against the Lakers at Qwest Center Omaha.

UNO has yet to sweep a 2-game series with wins this season. They either win a game and tie the next, or they lose a game and tie the other. The Mavs are 5-2-3 overall and 2-2-2-1 in the CCHA.

Despite the series of ties, wins and losses, the Mavs are still ranked nationally. They are #12 in both the USA Today Hockey poll and the poll. ranks the Mavs #10 in their weekly power rankings. Not bad, but the season is still young.

One player emerging offensively this year is Rich Purslow. He leads the team in goals (7) and points (10). The junior has become a long-range threat for UNO offensively.

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