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Nuno on the prowl to score for the ‘Cats

Nick Martinez-Esquibel

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Omar Nuno, junior transfer forward, leads the men's soccer team in goal this season. Photo credit: John Domogma

From a Bear Cub to Wildcat, Omar Nuno, junior transfer forward, is providing an offensive spark for the men’s soccer team early in the 2015 season.

Playing just over 450 minutes of soccer so far, he leads the team in goals scored. He’s found the back of the net four times out of his 25 attempts, which is good enough to be the team’s highest shot percentage.

“He’s a goal scorer,” said, Felipe Restrepo, head coach. “You get him around the 18 yard box and he’s pretty darn good.”

Two of Nuno’s seven goals came in a game on Sept. 18 against Holy Names University. Coming in as a sub, he scored 56 seconds before halftime to knot it up 1-1, and then again in the 57th minute he scored the game-winning goal.

What’s even more impressive is Nuno scored both goals with a pulled hamstring.

Nuno became the 19th Wildcat in Chico State men’s soccer history to score three goals, known as a hat trick, in a single game against Cal State East Bay on Friday, Oct. 2. Nuno is the first ‘Cat to record a hat trick since Benjamin Moukoko had one back in September 2008. Nuno is having an excellent year as a Wildcat with already seven goals in eight games and he is just getting started.

Along with pulling his hamstring in the beginning of the season, Nuno was recovering from a broken foot he suffered in the offseason. Not only was the physical aspect tough to recover from, it was mentally draining as well. It was one of the reasons why he was nervous in his first game and had to keep reminding himself that his foot was fully healed, he said.

Nuno has had his eye on playing for Chico State since high school, and he made it a reality this year.

Originally from Healdsburg, Nuno played his first two years at the community college-level for the Santa Rosa Junior College Bear Cubs. He helped lead his community college team to two Big 8 conference championships. He scored 25 goals while he attended, earning him back-to-back First Team All-Big 8 conference distinction.

Although he is notorious for scoring goals and loves when he gets the opportunity to shoot, it’s not his first priority.

“As long as I can help my team win, it doesn’t matter who scores the goals,” Nuno said. “As long as my team wins.”

His teammates call him “Osito”— Spanish for “baby bear.” The nickname comes from his old school mascot. Restrepo feels the name suits him well as he has a ferocious attack on the field,as well as a gentle, caring attitude toward his teammates, he said.

The transition has gone well for Nuno so far, finding it easy to bond with the team.

“I didn’t have a hard time connecting with the team,” Nuno said. “Since the first day, I’ve been friends with everyone.”

Restrepo said he’s always wanted to coach Nuno, and not for just his play on the field.

“He’s a young man of character,” Restrepo said. “When you’re bringing players onto your program you want some with experience, you want some with talent but you also want someone with heart.”

Nick Martinez-Esquibel can be reached at [email protected] or @THENickMartinez on Twitter.

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Nuno on the prowl to score for the ‘Cats