Opportunistic Omaha advances to #SummitWSOC Championship title match

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Video: Omaha Head Coach Tim Walters | Highlights

The Basics

Score: No. 4 Omaha 3, No. 1 South Dakota State 1
Records: Omaha (8-10-2), South Dakota State (12-6-1)
Location: Fishback Soccer Complex

BROOKINGS, S.D. – Omaha sophomore Bailey Cascio registered just the third hat trick in #SummitWSOC Tournament history to lead the fourth-seeded Mavericks to a 3-1 win over top-seeded South Dakota State in Thursday's opening semifinal. It marks the third-straight year the No. 4 seed has advanced to the title game.

"It's always hard whenever you score two goals (early) on the road like we did and have to defend a lead," Omaha head coach Tim Walters said. "We knew it was going to be a tough, tough second half. It was going to be a bend, don't break (type half).

"Thankfully, we held on. We defended for our lives and I was really, really proud of how hard the girls worked over the course of the game."

Cascio scored her first goal in the 11th-minute after the Mavs fended off several early scoring chances by the Jacks, who had four of their 13 corner kicks before surrendering a goal on Omaha's first shot attempt.

She got her second goal after heading in a cross from Taylor Gelling in the 31st-minute and that would stake the Mavs to a 2-0 halftime advantage.

The Jacks applied consistent pressure early on, but only got one shot on goal in the opening 45 minutes. The tournament hosts finally broke through just over five minutes into the second half when Carina McLennan converted a rebound off a shot from Leah Manuleleua.

SDSU kept on the attack looking for the equalizer, but it never materialized. The Jackrabbits rifled off 14 shots after the break, but Omaha goalkeeper Erin Bunker came up with key saves when needed.

Cascio closed out her first career hat trick in the final seconds when she finished off a cross by reigning Summit League Player of the Week Kiana Dualan.

"We were opportunistic," Omaha head coach Tim Walters said. "Bailey worked her butt off. She has worked her butt off all season and I think she deserved those goals today."

The Mavericks will play the winner of Saturday's second semifinal between No. 2 seed Denver and No. 3 seed North Dakota State.

Turning point

  • South Dakota State had four corner kicks in the opening 10 minutes of the match, but came up empty while the Mavs converted on their first scoring chance of the game in the 11th-minute.

Inside the box score

  • Omaha's three goals matched the total amount of goals South Dakota State surrendered during the eight-match Summit League regular season
  • Cascio's three goals came on Omaha's only three shots on goal in the match

New & Notes

  • Omaha's win came in the program's first appearance in the #SummitWSOC Tournament
  • Cascio's hat trick is just the third in tournament history and first since Oral Roberts' Tessa Long scored three goals in the 2001 Championship
  • The No. 4 seed has won its opening match in each of the last three Summit League Championships, but has not won the title since 2011 when Oakland defeated South Dakota State