OMAHA, Neb. - The Omaha men's soccer team gave No. 6 Creighton all it could handle and then some in a 1-1 draw before 3,133 enthusiastic fans at Morrison Stadium on Friday night in an exhibition match.
After falling behind 1-0 late in a well played first half, the Mavericks responded with a 74th minute goal by Vance Rookwood to even it up. The Mavericks outshot Creighton 11-10 overall and 6-5 in shots on goal. Just five days ago, Creighton held No. 7 Notre Dame to just four shot attempts. The Bluejays are two-time defending College Cup participants and have eight starters back.
The Mavericks, in just their third year of existence, were fearless and set the tempo from the opening whistle, registering the first five shots of the game. Craig Buettner put a shot on goal from close range to set the tone, and the Mavs were dangerously close to scoring in the game's first 15 minutes. Logan Mendez whipped in a corner kick that curled and hit the far post before deflecting away. With 11 minutes left in the half, Rookwood's bicycle kick from the center of the box was deflected away by Creighton goalie Alex Bolowich.
Senior goalie Matt Grosey made key saves to keep the score deadlocked, but Creighton finally broke through at the 7:10 mark, as Timo Pitter sent in a cross from the right side that found the head of Zabarle Kollie to give the Jays a 1-0 lead. Kollie put the ball in the left corner from just outside the six-yard box.
The Mavericks came out strong again after halftime though. In the 49th minute, Christian Garcia's shot from 10 yards out was just tipped over the bar by Bolowich.
With just under 20 minutes to play, Chava Garcia earned a dangerous free kick at the top of the arc. Jesus Perez ripped the spot kick off the crossbar, and the ball bounced off of Bolowich and out of harm.
But with 16:51 left, the Mavs finally got their hard-earned goal. Rookwood carried the ball down the right side of the box after a pass from Jake McCain, then cut back against two defenders and placed a left-footed shot just inside the left post from 15 yards out to even the score at 1-1, sending hundreds of Maverick students and the other Maverick fans in attendance into a frenzy.
The contest got heated in the final 10 minutes, and the Mavs faced some adversity when Buettner picked up his second yellow card of the game, forcing the Mavs to play a man down for the final eight minutes. However, Grosey and the back line defended valiantly to finish off the match.
The match capped a strong exhibition schedule for the Mavs, who battled to a 1-0 loss against Penn State last week, even though the Mavs had a good goal not counted. Penn State went on to tie No. 2 Maryland this week.
The Mavericks begin the season on Friday against Grand Canyon at the UNO Soccer Field.