Bob Warming points out that certain soccer teams reach the NCAA tournament year in and year out. Then there's those that occasionally qualify but never win a game.
UNO broke through in that respect last season. The Mavericks knocked off UNC Greensboro in the opening round and took perennial power Stanford to overtime in the second round.
Now Warming said it's time UNO takes the next step.
"We need to make it back, make it part of the culture," the coach said. "It's the next part of the journey."
Warming, whose team opens its regular season at 7 p.m. Thursday at Bradley, likes the direction the program is headed — on and off the pitch.
Others are expecting the Mavs to continue progressing. Coaches recently named UNO preseason favorites to win the Summit League.
One reason is because UNO's lineup will look a lot like last season, when it went 7-3-1. With the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic, 10 of 11 starters are back, including all four first-team all-league selections: Nil Ayats, Fitzroy Cummings, Hugo Kametani and Stevie Siy. Kenji Mboma Dem and Ed Port, who made the all-newcomer team, also are back.
Kametani was the program's first All-American; he was a third-team selection by the United Soccer Coaches. He led UNO with 19 points last season, including nine goals.
Kametani is working his way back from a knee injury this summer while Ayats also injured his knee and hopes to return by October. Warming said about six players are banged up heading into the opener.
"It's not a sprint, it's a marathon. You got to be patient," Warming said.