OMAHA, Neb. - Vance Rookwood scored the game-winning goal with 16:38 left, and the Omaha men's soccer team earned a big 2-1 win over defending Summit League champion Western Illinois Saturday at the UNO Soccer Field.
The Mavericks improved to 2-5-1 overall and are now 1-0 in conference action. The Leathernecks dropped to 1-7 overall and 0-1 in the Summit League. WIU won the conference tournament last season and has won three of the past four league tournaments.
On a windy day, Western Illinois broke the scoreless deadlock in the 25th minute. Ben Fiddes won a header in the midfield and led Erick Bloom to a breakaway. Bloom's shot to the left corner was saved by a diving Matt Grosey. But the rebound settled in the center of the box at the foot of Drew Edmond, and he tapped it in for the 1-0 WIU lead.
The Mavericks battled back to tie the match in the 39th minute on Mark Moulton's first career goal. Lalo Gamboa played a ball to Conor Corboy, who turned and played a through ball behind the WIU defense. Moulton chased the ball down on the right side and finished low past goalie Yves Dietrich to make it 1-1. Corboy earned his first career assist, while Gamboa had his second in as many games.
The Mavericks had their foot on the gas the entire second half and were finally rewarded in the 74th minute. Chava Garcia played a square ball to Joe Marinkovich 25 yards from goal. Marinkovich took a shot, but it was deflected right to Rookwood in the center of the box. Rookwood collected it, turned and fired it home for the 2-1 lead. It was his team-high third goal of the season and second game-winner.
The Mavericks' best defense in the final 15 minutes was posing a continued threat on the attack. Omaha nearly put the game away when Xavier Gomez centered a pass to Christian Garcia, but his shot was blocked by a defender before going in the net. Garcia nearly had another goal with less than five minutes to go, but he was taken down just outside the 18-yard box. Gomez hit the ensuing free kick off the crossbar to nearly seal the victory.
UNO outshot Western Illinois 14-8 overall but had a 10-4 advantage in the second half. The Mavs had a 5-4 edge in shots on goal in the game and a 3-1 advantage in the second half. Omaha also had a 6-1 corner kick edge over the Leathernecks.
The Mavericks are back at home to host Milwaukee on Wednesday in non-conference action. That match will be played at 4 p.m. at the UNO Soccer Field.