Monday, November 2, 2009

Maverick seniors going out winners

October went by fast, and now that we've all had our trick and treating fun we are starting to wrap up the seasons for many fall sports.

UNO's football and soccer teams both played their final home games of their respective regular seasons this past week, and both teams came away with wins, but in rather different fashions.

The Mavericks' football team won on Saturday in an overtime thriller against Pittsburg State 31-28 in what was only the second overtime game in Caniglia Field history.

The Mavs got off to a sluggish start in the first half, falling behind 14-9 at halftime.

"I thought we were a little lethargic in the first half and I couldn’t quite understand that, it was a five-point ballgame," head coach Pat Behrns said. "We should have had 14 points, but obviously didn’t."

The Mavs came back in the second half to take a 25-22 lead late in the 4th quarter, but a long drive by Pittsburg State chewed up the rest of the clock before the Gorillas kicked the game-tying field goal with 8 seconds left.

It was a sign of good things to come when the Mavs won the coin toss. UNO deferred the ball to PSU, and the Gorillas went three-and-out and settled for a field goal.

The Mavs moved into scoring position when the Gorillas were flagged for a roughing the passer penalty, moving the ball to the PSU 6-yard line. On the next play, senior quarterback Greg Wunderlich found junior TE Mike Higgins in the back of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

The players stormed the field and celebrated their final home game with a win. More importantly, the seniors got to go out the best way possible.

"It’s sad that I’ll never be able to play here again," Wunderlich said. "If there’s a way to go out, this is the way - beating a team that’s caused a lot of pain for us over the last 12 months. It feels good to get this win."

"It was a pretty exciting game," senior defensive tackle Zac Keller said. "I’d probably have liked to have it put away a little earlier than that. Nonetheless, our guys fought hard and we never gave up, so it was an exciting game."

The Mavs improve to 6-4 overall and 5-3 in the MIAA, and while a playoff berth was all but out of reach for the Mavs, it was still a contest worth winning for the seniors on the team.

"I think it was huge, really to save those seniors," Higgins said. "It was great to send those guys out with a win here at home. I think that’s really the biggest thing."

The soccer team, meanwhile, had a less thrilling result to their game. Instead, the Mavs dominated their opponent from the outset once again and won their final home game 1-0 over Missouri Southern.

The game wasn't a true home game in the sense that it was played somewhere other than the UNO soccer field. Because of the rainy weather throughout the day, the game was moved to Creighton's Morrison Stadium where the field conditions were much better.

To be honest, I was glad the game was moved, because that facility is gorgeous. It was my first time being there, and it's an amazing place to watch futbol. Talking with head coach Klosterman after the game, he said there really isn't any other futbol facility like it in the country for college. Creighton has it good.

The Mavs outplayed the Lions from the start, but were only able to get 1 goal, and even that goal was lucky. Senior Megan Jensen sent a free kick into the box that took a weird, wet and wild bounce on the Lions' goalkeeper and squeezed through for the goal. It was Jensen's first goal of the year, and her second career goal. Not a bad way to go out.

The Mavs outshot Missouri Southern 22-2. UNO had 13 shots on goal, but with only 1 goal to show for it, you had to figure the weather still had a factor.

The Lions' 2 shots were a season-low for the Mavs, and was the 9th straight game that UNO has held their opponent to 10 shots or fewer. It's been an impressive season for the Mavs' defense, which now have 8 shutouts on the year.

The most important thing to come out of the weekend for Klosterman's team was Truman's loss on Halloween. With that loss, the Mavs regain control atop the MIAA standings with a 12-1-1 conference record. They only have two more games left before the regular season is over, and the Mavs now control their destiny.

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