By Avery Wenck, Asst. Sports Editor
Nothing is more difficult than trying to replace someone at work who has been loyal and efficient for the company. Soccer is similar, and no one could speak more to that than junior goalkeeper Josh Christensen.
Christensen is Omaha’s new goalkeeper, taking over for Matt Grosey, who is an assistant with the club. Christensen knows he has big shoes to fill, but he is experienced and isn’t shying away from the opportunity to pull on that #1 shirt for the Mavericks.
Matt Grosey finished last season starting all 16 games in net, amassing 1,474 minutes. He allowed 21 goals over the course of the season, which earned him a 1.28 average per game.
Grosey holds the all-time record for starts at UNO with 31. He leads all goalie statistics in UNO history besides saves per game, which belongs to Josh Christensen with six in 14 games.
A good experience playing at Omaha North High School and getting his redshirt has led to where the junior now stands.
“Last year I got a redshirt, which is really exciting because it means I have two years of eligibility left,” Christensen said. “I went to Omaha North High School, which was a really good experience for a goalkeeper because I got a lot of action in net.”
Josh had started the first season for the Mavs in 2011, but had to take a backseat to Grosey in his second season. Christensen had nothing but praise for the former keeper.
“One thing Matt really taught me was how to train. He came from a junior college and had to work hard to get here. I got a lot from practicing behind him, and I think that really elevated my career.”
Training is so important to every soccer player; it is where they build stamina and improve their game. Training under an older player can have a very positive effect on the development of a younger player.
Christensen mentioned how he wants to be louder and pump up his teammates. He said he is a fiery guy which can translate out onto the pitch.
“I’d say the strongest part of my game is my organization of the team,” he said. “Since I’m tall, I’m also good at coming out on corners and catching balls out of the air… As a keeper if you have 20 saves a game, people will say you had a good game. For goalkeepers, we look at it the opposite, if you have to make more saves, it means your defense was not organized well.”
The men’s team has some tough opposition this year in Santa Clara, No. 20 Stanford and Summit League favorite Denver. For Christensen, it is nothing but exciting.
“It’s definitely exciting to play good teams like that, but we are only a of couple days into the preseason, so we’re not really focused on other teams,” he said. “It was good motivation during the summer. A lot of guys knew we had to work really hard, stayed in town and put a lot of hours in the weight room.”
Christensen will have his hands full this year with the tough opposition, but his confidence in himself and his teammates shows that they’re up for the challenge. The team has already shown some promise in the preseason, beating Nebraska 2-1 and looking bright in their Red-Black scrimmage.
They look to be in good spirits heading into their home opener against Santa Clara on Friday. The most important thing to the fans is results, and the Mavs will need to get results to keep their fans happy.