SOCCER: UNO AT IUPUI
There isn't much in the college soccer world that can top a double-overtime win on a goal as time expires, but landing in the national coaches rankings for the first time in school history may do it.
UNO, fresh off its thrilling 3-2 victory over Bradley at Caniglia Field on Saturday, entered the NSCAA poll at No. 23 Tuesday. The Mavericks are 6-1 heading into their Summit League opener Saturday at IUPUI.
"I know there are some different publications out there, and some of them have had us in there now, but it does feel good," coach Jason Mims said of the ranking. "That was one of, at least, my goals for the program when we started it four years ago — to be a top-25 school.
"At the end of the day, people will say rankings don't mean much and that it all comes down to the end of the season and how you're playing, which I agree with to some point. But for us, starting the program four years ago, it's pretty cool for the guys to see — in four short years — where we've come."
The Mavs, in their fifth season of soccer and their first of full NCAA Division I eligibility, are one of two Summit League teams to be ranked. Denver (6-0-1) moved up three spots to No. 12, which is the highest ever ranking in a men's sport for a Summit team, topping the Oral Roberts baseball team which rose to No. 14 in 2006.
Creighton remained No. 1 in this week's poll, giving Omaha two ranked teams. Mims, who was an assistant coach for the Bluejays for 10 years, said it's a good time to be a college soccer fan in Nebraska.
"We like good buzz about us," he said. "I'm happy Creighton's No. 1. The more they keep winning, that's great for us. I think it's great for our sport. We aren't like a lot of other sports, like football or maybe even basketball. We're trying to still grow our sport, educate fans and make people become fans of our sport. Anytime you can have anyone in the soccer world in Omaha doing well, I'm super happy."
In addition to playing IUPUI on Saturday, UNO faces Valparaiso on Monday before returning home for two straight Saturday league games. Mims said his team must stay the course, even with its new rating.
"It's not going to get us to the Summit League tournament and win it or the NCAA tournament and win it," Mims said, "but it's a great compliment and justification of what we've been doing here. Hard work is paying off."