Right where he belongs: Raines feeling comfortable playing keeper for Mavs
Four schools in four years, but now Chris Raines seems to have found a home in front of the goal at Mesa State College.
The Mavericks’ 6-foot-4 senior goalkeeper attended Cherokee Trail High School, where he played baseball and soccer. He went to Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs his freshman year and played soccer, then transferred to Garden City (Kan.) Community College.
“Garden City was the biggest transformation for soccer and schools,” he said. “That place really helped me out. We were really good and got looked at by a lot of scouts. That was probably the biggest change I had to make.”
So off he went to Queens College in Charlotte, N.C., but after one season, he started looking to move again.
“I wasn’t comfortable there and didn’t have a good situation,” he said. “I just wanted to come home.”
He had played against Mesa State his freshman year at Colorado Mountain College, but didn’t put much thought into playing for the Mavs back then. However, it seemed like a good choice after starting keeper Josh Tinaglia graduated, so he transferred again and won the starting keeper’s job.
“The team’s really taken me in and just blending with everybody, everybody really gets along well,” Raines said.
He’s not only fit in quickly with the Mavericks, but has taken to the role of directing traffic in front of him, constantly talking to the defense and getting players into the right spots.
“We really are on the same page with so many seniors together,” Raines said. “We all have the experience and we all know what to expect and how to play. Most of these guys, Alex (Mattevi), Jake (Jobe) and Mitch (Reid) have played together for awhile. I’m glad I got in and understood how they played. It’s been easy how well we communicate on and off the field.”
Raines is 4-6-2 in goal for the Mavericks (7-6-2, 3-6-2-RMAC), allowing 15 goals in 14 games, an average of 1.18 goals per game. He’s made 44 saves and has recorded three shutouts.
His play in goal is one reason the Mavericks can lock up a spot in the RMAC tournament if they beat CU-Colorado Springs at 7 p.m. on Friday at Walker Field, their final home game of the season. Reaching the conference tournament would be a huge step for a program that won only two games last season after a rash of injuries and disciplinary problems.
For a guy who didn’t start playing soccer seriously until his sophomore year in high school, Raines has become a force with his long arms and good footwork.
“I was always a baseball player in high school, never a soccer player,” he said. “I just got ahold of it pretty quick and started to learn and got pretty good at it. I never knew how good I really was until I played against other good keepers and good teams. I’m still growing, still learning.
“In high school I started figuring out I’m better (at soccer). I liked playing soccer more than baseball.
“I was getting better at it than at baseball and it just took over. I never planned on playing in college until my senior year. I knew I wasn’t going to go anywhere with baseball.”
The Mavericks’ 1-0 loss to top-ranked Colorado School of Mines 21⁄2 weeks ago gave them all kinds of confidence.
They tied No. 17 Regis 0-0, then lost 3-1 to No. 6 Metro State before a 1-0 loss to No. 25 Fort Lewis, playing well in all four games despite not getting a victory.
Then they held off CSU-Pueblo on Sunday 2-1 and can clinch the sixth and final playoff spot if they beat UCCS on Friday at home before finishing the regular season at CSU-Pueblo and Regis.
“In this part of the year we can really make a run at it,” Raines said a couple of days after the Mines game. “We still have a lot of games where we can do something, put ourselves in a good position. Going into the tournament, if we keep building like we have and go into the tournament this way, it’s exciting to see what we can do.”