What a difference a year makes.
That’s how Bob Warming views his time as UNO coach.
“I love these guys. The difference in 12 months has been amazing,” said Warming, hired by the Mavericks in April 2018. “The players know it, they feel it.”
That’s one reason the hall of fame coach, who has 468 career wins, is optimistic heading into this season. The Mavs travel to California to open the regular season, facing Cal on Friday before taking on No. 11 St. Mary’s on Monday. UNO also faced another California team last Saturday, losing a 1-0 exhibition match to UCLA.
Warming said last year “was a little bit of a scramble for us,” but thinks more familiarity will benefit the team.
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“The team is just more mature now, in a very good way,” Warming said. “Our guys played on a 9-on-9 league on our campus all summer for the first time ever. They have an understanding of each other.”
The Mavericks finished 7-8-1 last season, but went 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. Nine starters return this year.
Those returners include forward Diego Gutierrez, a junior from Ralston who led the team in goals (seven) and assists (seven), and sophomore Martin Veys, who had five goals. They combined for 12 of UNO’s 19 goals last season.
Experience also returns in the back end. Defenders Seth Rinderknecht and Stevie Siy combined for 27 starts in 2018 while keeper Ugo Tritz was 7-4-1 with five shutouts.
Senior midfielder Cole Nelson, who tore his ACL early last season, is back, too.
“I’m really excited to get back on the field,” Nelson said.
And with Warming’s approach, Nelson is excited to see what the Mavs can accomplish this season.
“We’re trying to play the game of soccer the way some of the best teams in the world do,” Nelson said. “Sometimes that can be difficult. We’re trying to do things in the right way, and if you continuously try to do them, eventually you’re going to get them down.”