Going purely on result, it would be difficult to find a more crushing defeat in the University of Nebraska Omaha men’s soccer team’s short three-year history than the one Saturday.
But the reopening of on-campus Caniglia Field after a $1.4 million transformation from football stadium to soccer pitch marked the beginning of a new chapter in UNO athletics.
Wayne Farmer’s goal with 9.3 seconds remaining broke a 1-1 tie, stunning an energetic crowd of 1,804 and lifting Oral Roberts to a 2-1 win over the Mavericks.
The loss dropped UNO to 3-9-1 overall (1-3-0 Summit League), but coach Jason Mims said the event was just a glimpse of a bigger picture that is leading to a better team and fan experience.
UNO previously played its home games at the old Chili Greens property at 68th and Spring Streets, and seating was limited to a few bleachers.
“It stinks that we lost, but this feels like home,” Mims said. “You’re not playing at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on a Tuesday with — I call it MCI games, with family and friends only.
“You actually get a fan base. The band, the students. There was tailgating, so it’s so fun.”
Mark Moulton will go on record as scoring the first Mavs goal in Caniglia Field history as he tied it 1-1 with a header in the 47th minute.
The goal came after Nick Miller received a corner kick on the far post and crossed a left-footer to Moulton, who registered his second goal of the year.
But Moulton said the goal would have meant more to him had it led to a Mavericks win.
“It’s a great feeling, but at the same time we’re coming away with a loss,” Moulton said. “That will feel really special when we get our first win here.”
UNO carried the play in the first half, outshooting the Golden Eagles 11-2. But the Mavs found themselves down 1-0 at halftime after an Edgardo Mira strike in the 25th minute.
After a skirmish between the sides that ended the first half, Mims was told he would be down a player after an ejection. He formulated his second-half strategy with that in mind.
But that all changed when the second half began.
The officials were confused as to which players on which sides were involved in the dispute and decided to keep the sides even after just issuing yellow cards to each team.
“The referees tell me we got a guy ejected at halftime, so I’m preparing to play a man down,” Mims said. “Then he comes back and says that no, we’re up a man and then he says no, we’re even. It was definitely highs and lows.”
UNO did play a man down for the final 36:40 of the match after Jake McCain received a red card for a hard tackle.
The Mavs ended up outshooting Oral Roberts 17-11.
“We played a man down for quite a bit of the match,” Mims said. “We didn’t score, but we controlled the match.”
Oral Roberts (5-6-3, 3-1-0)..........................1 1—2
At UNO (3-9-1, 1-3-0)................................0 1—1
Goals: 1, ORU, Edgardo Mira (Javier Reyes, Johnny Chavez) 24:17, 2, UNO, Mark Moulton (Nick Miller, Logan Mendez) 46:30. 3, ORU, Wayne Farmer (Marco Hernandez) 89:51. Shots: ORU 11, UNO 17. Shots on goal: ORU 6, UNO 7. Fouls: ORU 10, UNO 9. Goalkeepers: ORU, Isaac Sandoval 90:00 (six saves); UNO, Matt Grosey 90:00 (four saves). A: 1,804.