OMAHA, Neb. – The Columbia men’s soccer team closed out its road trip to Omaha Sunday with a close battle against Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavs used a goal in the 83rd minute to edge the Lions, 1-0, on a hot, sunny day at UNO Soccer Field.
Columbia produced the first scoring chance of the match in the 10th minute. Omaha’s Jordan Gealy was issued a yellow card after taking down a charging Nicholas Pappacena just outside of the penalty area. The free kick attempt awarded to the Lions was deflected by the Mavs’ wall and then the second attempt off the foot of Antonio Matarazzo went over the net.
Omaha’s first scoring chance came in the 22nd minute when Mark Moulton’s header off of a corner kick was directed toward the top of the goal, but Columbia’s Kyle Jackson snared it to keep the contest scoreless.
Ron Zori provided one last scoring opportunity for the Lions before the end half in the 43rd minute. Zori’s first shot from the top of the penalty box was blocked, but he recovered the ball, weaved through the Omaha defense and had a shot from the right of the goal deflected away by the Mavs’ keeper.
At the intermission, Columbia held a 6-3 advantage in shots, and was also the more physical team based on the whistle of the referee, being called for seven fouls to Omaha’s four.
Omaha came out in the second half and controlled play early on. The Mavs placed three shots on net in the opening 13 minutes, but Jackson was there each time to protect the Lions’ goal. Columbia’s limited opportunities early on came from the foot of David Najem, but both of his two long shots were secured by Omaha keeper Matt Gorsey.
Columbia began to shift play into its offensive zone with about 16 minutes left in regulation. The Lions’ first scoring chance came when Pappacena sent a cross from the left of the net that Frederick Elliot fielded and rocketed towards the goal, but Gorsey was there to make the stop. Less than a minute later Elliot had a second opportunity from close range, but good defense from the Mavs halted the opportunity.
The Lions continued the offensive pressure with David Najem sending a pair shots just over the crossbar on back-to-back rushes.
The Mavs returned the action back to their offensive zone moments later, as a corner kick led to the game’s only tally. Omaha’s Vance Rookwood was able to possess the ball in the middle of a scrum off the corner cross and slipped it past a Columbia defender and Jackson. Chava Garcia and Sam Langston were credited with assists on the goal.
Columbia, sensing the urgency, once again pressured the Mavs in their offensive zone. Rhys Williams challenged Gorsey on a ball in the air, but the loose ball the collision created in front of the net was cleared. On the next rush Will Stamatis found himself at the top of the penalty area open, but his shot missed just left of the post. Williams had one last chance in the final seconds, but his header went just wide, as Omaha held on for the 1-0 victory.
Jackson added eight saves Sunday, to bring his weekend total to 17. Omaha ended the game with a 15-14 advantage in shots, while Columbia was whistled for seven fouls in each half to lead that category, 14-9.
Columbia will next be in action on Saturday, Sep. 14 in its home opener at the Columbia Soccer Stadium against Iona. Kick-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.