From the UK to the USA — Brendan Brown has seen quite a bit of America the past four years.
"I've traveled enough of America, to be honest," the Colorado Mesa junior goalkeeper said. "It's been great."
He left Cambridge, England, to attend college and play soccer, first at Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. After one year, he transferred to the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.
From there, he made it to Grand Junction, sitting out last year.
"I've transferred too many times and the NCAA made me sit last year," he said, adding with a grin, "Thanks, NCAA."
He seems to have found where he belongs with the Mavericks.
"I love the school, the campus, Grand Junction," Brown said. "That year off helped me a little bit, relax and feel the place out and hit the ground running."
CMU soccer fans might have been a little apprehensive about the quality of play in goal after the Mavericks lost four-time all-conference keeper Briley Guarneri to graduation. First-year coach Andrew Conniff wasn't worried.
"In conversations with Coach (Todd) Padgett I was aware of Brendan," he said. "It wasn't a massive surprise, he told me that's a position we have on lock. That wasn't a first thought coming in, 'Man, I have to replace this four-time all-conference guy who's played a ton of games and in the NCAA tournament.' Coach got me up to speed on Brendan and said we're good there."
Brown could practice with the Mavericks last year, using it as a redshirt season, so Padgett, now the director of soccer operations, knew what he could do between the posts.
At 6-foot-2, his length is a plus, and he's quick on his feet to deny shots. Through the Mavs' nine games, Brown has played every minute in goal, allowing seven goals, a goals-against average of 0.74.
He gave up two goals in the season opener, but only five since, and has three shutouts, the third coming Friday night when he saved a second-half penalty kick against Dixie State. He actually saved two PKs, but was called for leaving his line early on the first, giving the Trailblazers a do-over, which Brown also knocked away.
Working out every day last season with Guarneri in goal helped Brown get to know his new mates and develop the chemistry they need in the back third.
"Me and Briley are pretty similar and I think Coach would agree," Brown said. "We got on well and it was nice to help him along and pick up some things from him and (Guarneri) pick up some things from me. That's basically what it was last year in training."
The Mavericks have yet to reach their potential, with a veteran team, but several of those veterans taking on bigger roles than last year.
"We haven't peaked. We're not anywhere near where I personally think we can be," Brown said. "If we can start scoring some goals and some people can start stepping up, and they know who they are, then I believe we can push forward and stake a claim to the conference."
By working with the Mavericks all of last year and he and Guarneri pushing one another to improve, along with the other returning keepers, Brown was more than ready to don the Mavs' new baby blue goalkeeper kit — Guarneri wore green — and take control of the last line of defense this season.
"I don't know if Briley would like hearing this, but I think the two of them competing was that Michael Jordan-Mia Hamm commercial, anything you can do I can do better," Conniff said. "I think that's how the two of them approached it."
"I'd go with that," Brown said.