2019 Men's Soccer Championship Page
Video: Omaha Head Coach Bob Warming
Highlights: Semifinal No. 1 | Mateu's game-winning goal (Twitter)
DENVER – Omaha's Pep Mateu finished the first semifinal of the 2019 #SummitMSOC Championship presented by U.S. Air Force Special Warfare in thrilling fashion by heading home the game-winner three minutes into overtime. Mateu's torpedo-like header lifted the fourth-seeded Mavericks into their fourth-straight championship match, sending home top-seeded Western Illinois, 3-2.
The top-seeded Leathernecks never relented, which was a microcosm of a season that started with 11-consecutive losses.
The Mavericks opened the scoring in the 29th-minute when Mitch Hammer drilled home a back-heel pass from Junior Noutoua after he was set up on a perfect through ball from Diego Gutierrez. Hammer and Noutoua had been in the game for just minutes before connecting on what was Hammer's first goal of the season.
With Omaha already leading 1-0, Western Illinois' Paul Kirdorf was sent off after receiving a red card in the 41st-minute, leaving the Leathernecks without the #SummitMSOC Defensive Player of the Year for the final 50 minutes of regulation.
That did not deter the Leathernecks, who tied the match in the 54th-minute when Omaha's Miguel Gomez was called for a handball. Daisuke Otsuka delivered the penalty kick into the back of the net to square the match at 1-1. The junior midfielder then gave his team the first lead of the match in the 74th-minute he chipped a ball over the outstretched-hands of Omaha goalkeeper Jeremy Pollard for his sixth goal of the season.
The Mavericks had a quick answer though as Marcos Bautista evened things at 2-2 with his second goal of the season.
The teams went scoreless over the final 12 minutes to set up the first overtime match at the championship since the 2017 title game.
It didn't take long in the first overtime for Mateu to deliver the game-winner. After a failed-clearance off a shot attempt, Hammer dribbled in the loose ball and found a diving Mateu for what was Omaha's first victory in seven overtime contests this season.
Omaha will play the winner of the second semifinal this afternoon between (2) Oral Roberts and (3) Denver at 4 p.m. MT.
- After falling behind for the first time in the 74th-minute, Omaha took less than five minutes to even things up on a goal by Marcos Bautista and eventually force overtime.
Inside the box score
- Hammer's goal was his first of the season and third of his career.
- Noutoua's assist was the first of the season as this was just his fourth appearance.
- Mateu's goal was the first for the grad transfer who is playing his first collegiate season in the United States after moving to Omaha from Barcelona, Spain.
- Western Illinois' Daisuke Otsuka posted the first multiple-goal game of his career. The JUCO-transfer finished his first season as a Leatherneck with six goals.
News & Notes
- Fourth-seeded Omaha advanced to its fourth-straight title match. The Mavericks are 1-2 in those contests having won the 2017 trophy in a shootout.
- Omaha is the first No. 4 seed to advance to the title match since Oral Roberts did so in 2010. IUPUI was the last No. 4 seed to claim the title in 2000.
- The Mavericks' three goals matched their season-high from a 3-1 regular-season victory over Western Illinois (Oct. 5).
- Noutoua's assist was the first of the season as this was just the fourth appearance of 2019 for the Omaha native.