It may be opening week for Penn men’s soccer, but one huge question mark continues to hover over the team.
With the start of the season fast approaching, the starting goalkeeper for Penn men’s soccer has yet to be named. The competition continues between sophomore Dane Jacomen and freshman Nick Christoffersen.
Regardless of who is chosen, the Quakers will be going with youth and inexperience at the position. Jacomen didn’t see any game action last fall and Christoffersen only arrived on campus a few weeks ago.
This is in stark contrast to last season, when senior Scott Forbes started every match and played every minute, including all 12 overtime periods for the Red and Blue. Forbes played at a high level throughout the season, notching the best save percentage in the Ivy League with a mark of .821.
Etan Mabourakh, another graduating senior last year, is also a huge loss for the program. Even though Forbes took over the job last season, Mabourakh started 23 matches over his first three years for the Quakers, giving him the ever-so-valuable experience the position requires.
“As a keeper, experience is big: seeing certain game situations is hard to replicate in training,” Jacomen said.
While the sophomore is keenly aware of the experienced shoes he and Christoffersen will be forced to fill, that's not to say that either lack experience in meaningful matches.
Both Jacomen and Christoffersen played in highly competitive Major League Soccer youth academy programs, so they aren’t as behind as their blank collegiate resumes may suggest. Christoffersen, a Toronto native, came up through the Toronto FC academy, while Jacomen was selected into the DC United academy.
“Both of them come from good backgrounds with regards to their youth academy setups," coach Brian Gill said. “Both of them have had the opportunity to play in some higher level training environments and higher level game environments."
While Gill seems confident in either of his options at keeper, he has kept quiet in regards to officially naming a starter. A factor in this decision could be the Red and Blue’s slate of seven nonconference matches before Ivy League action begins in October.
It would not be surprising to see Gill test both Jacomen and Christoffersen in these matches before settling on one to take over for the part of the schedule that matters most.
Jacomen doesn’t seem to be sweating Gill’s decision, as he continues to focus on the ongoing competition.
“I’m coming in and working hard, Christoffersen is a really good keeper and we’ve been pushing each other hard, so we’re just going to see what happens and we’ll go from there,” he said.
Even as a freshman, Christoffersen isn’t fazed by the more competitive environment either.
“Dane and I have similar ambitions and goals … We’re not thinking about the [fact that it's a] college game, it’s just another game of soccer for us,” he said.
Regardless of who starts in net for the first match of the year or who takes over for the conference matches, these keepers are ready to adopt whatever role they are assigned and continue competing to help the Quakers win.
One good thing about lack of experience: it's a problem that will quickly solve itself.
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