Scots find success in front of two keepers

By Matt Day

After Macalester’s keeper made a save during the home playoff win against St. Olaf, the nearly 500-strong crowd broke into chants of “Mark Mullaney.”The Macalester faithful, who usually show their awareness of the game situation with well-timed and slightly profane cheers, were wrong this time.

Mark Mullaney ’11 was on the bench. The goalkeeper they meant to cheer for was Matt Weyer ’12.

It has been a common mistake this year.

“It’s really only the crowd, our coaches, our players who call us by each other’s name,” Mullaney said, adding that at Monday’s practice “Carson [Gorecki ’09] called me Matt four times.”

The two keepers have rotated game for game in goal for the Macalester men’s soccer team this season, a rare occurrence in collegiate soccer. They say the rotation hasn’t been a distraction, and have shown it down the stretch for the Scots as they rode a hot streak to this weekend’s NCAA Regionals in Dubuque, Iowa. During the six-game winning streak, the pair have conceded only 3 goals.

“This flipping isn’t ideal,” coach Ian Barker said. “But it’s obviously worked for us.”

Giving more than one keeper playing time isn’t unprecedented at Macalester in recent years. During the 2007 season, Evan Mitchell ’08 saw time in relief of three-year starter Ryan Palmer ’08. Mullaney was the team’s main starter last year as a sophomore, but Weyer and Drake Andersen ’09 also saw time.

At the end of the team’s spring practices, Barker told the two that they would likely split time again.

“He told us that, barring one of us getting drastically better, we were going to rotate,” Weyer said.

“I had hoped that they would make it different,” Barker said.

“But we don’t favor one over the other. The boys have really been supportive of each other.”

Mullaney and Weyer say adjusting to the rotation came easy.

“It’s been good,” Mullaney said. “When you’re switching off, you can focus on your role, whether it’s supporting the other guy or starting.”

In a sport where a split second of confusion between field players and keeper can lead to a goal, the defense has been a strength regardless of who is playing behind them. Players and coach agree that the two have been on the same page, something Mullaney attributes to their training.

“We’ve been pretty consistent,” Mullaney said. “We use a lot of the same language, it comes from the same training.”

The defense agrees.

“Both of our keepers are good, they don’t make a lot of mistakes,” center back and captain Nate Juergens ’11 said. “We definitely work as one unit, no matter who is back there. They’re both good at what they do.”

“I have a lot of confidence in both of these guys,” defender Andrew Lund ’12 agreed.

In addition to the regular training sessions, Macalester’s goalkeepers practice twice a weak with goalie coach Julie Eibensteiner.

“The boys have really been supportive of each other,” Barker said. “I don’t get a great sense that one feels slighted. It has allowed me to prepare them for each role.”

Mullaney and Weyer both have signature wins as Macalester has turned it up following an Oct. 14 loss at Gustavus.

Weyer, despite being mistaken for Mullaney by the vocal crowd, kept then-No. 24 St. Olaf scoreless through 105 minutes before Taylor Rasmussen ’13 broke through with a goal that sent Macalester to the Minnestota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament final.

Mullaney responded the next game by making 7 second-half saves to keep regular season conference champion Carleton off the board in a 1-0 victory that set up Saturday’s game against Grinnell.

“Ian was telling us, the number of times we’ve wound up in a pile screaming has not been normal,” Mullaney said. Piles ensued after Macalester’s two overtime wins late in the regular season and two more in the conference playoffs.

“We’ve been in this ‘win or go home’ situation for six games now,” Barker said of the Scots winning streak. “It has been ‘Win this game so Mark can play in the conference final.’ Each guy’s performance sets the other one up.”

“Both of them make all the saves,” Juergens said. “That’s really what keeping is all about.