UNO’s Buettner made an unlikely journey to D-I

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July 28th, 2013

Omaha, NE – The University of Nebraska Omaha men’s soccer team is hungry to better its record of 5-10-1 from last season, according to head coach Jason Mims.

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He said his squad is progressing well in its third year. The Mavericks have added 11 new players to this year’s roster to balance the 10 returning starters from last season’s team. Mims said Craig Buettner is a key returning player. Buettner’s emergence as a leader on a Division-I soccer team started with an open try-out in 2011 following two years as a student at UNO.

“(We) probably had 10 countries represented, it was incredible,” Mims said. “And I told them ‘look, none of you guys may make the team, a couple may make it, 10 of you may make it’, I had no idea,” he said.

Head coach Jason Mims heads into his third year at the helm of UNO's men's soccer team. (Photo Courtesy UNO Athletics)

Head coach Jason Mims heads into his third year at the helm of UNO’s men’s soccer team. (Photo Courtesy UNO Athletics)

“I told them the reason you guys are out here is because you guys love soccer and you are passionate about it and you love it,” Mims said. “Craig was one of those guys; he was the one that came through out of 160 players he made it. He is a very good success story and is doing very well with our team,” he said.

Buettner hadn’t played soccer since high school and by his own admission was not in shape to start his first season. But Buettner scored one goal his first year at UNO in a game against Stetson. He followed that up with three goals and an assist last year in 10 starts. Buettner pointed to Mims as one of the main reasons for his growth as a player.

“He has done a lot for me, he gave me a chance my sophomore year when I came in,” Buettner said. “I know my game wasn’t the best it was coming out of high school and taking a couple years off and he gave me a chance. He has definitely improved my game a lot and I thank him for that,” he said.

Buettner also said Mims is very active during practices.

Out of 160 students at an open tryout in 2011, Buettner was the only player chosen to UNO's roster.

Out of 160 students at an open tryout in 2011, Buettner was the only player chosen to UNO’s roster.

“He is a great inspiration to all the guys on the team, including me,” Buettner said. “I mean everyday he comes into practice and he sets the tone, 100%. I wouldn’t ask for anything more from him because he does everything for the guys and me and I thank him for giving me the chance to play again,” he said.

Buettner said he has worked hard in the off-season to better not only himself but the team as a whole. Mims says this type of leadership throughout the team is crucial and it has picked up this summer with senior led training. But Mims is clear on what his goals are this year, and beyond.

“This season won’t be judged off wins and losses,” Mims said. “I think it’s more about the learning process still… shoot we are young,” he said. “I mean we will still have a ton of sophomores starting, probably a couple new players starting, couple older guys that (are) blessed experience wise on the field. But we are definitely still young and it’s a learning process,” he said.

“And it’s really getting geared towards 2015,” Mims said. “We are different than a lot of teams, there is no NCAA tournament for us. So 2015 is what we are gearing towards, so that is still our main focus, two years from now,” he said.

The Mavericks start the year with two exhibition games, against two top ten teams. First defending regular season Big Ten champions Penn State travels to town for a game August 17th. The game will be played at Collin Stadium at South High. Then a week later UNO takes on Creighton at Morrison Stadium on the campus of CU.

Al F. Caniglia field is currently being converted from a football field into a soccer pitch for both men’s and women’s teams at UNO. However a wet spring has delayed progress and no date has been set for completion.

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