Kristen Rivers’ wait to become Missouri’s starting goalkeeper ends

Rivers has helped Missouri soccer to recapture winning ways since becoming a starter.
Missouri Tigers goalkeeper Kristen Rivers (15) dives to save the ball at the Audrey J. Walton Soccer Stadium. Rivers recently became the starting goalkeeper after waiting over two years for the spot. Courtesy of MU Athletics

Junior goalkeeper Kristen Rivers is practiced in the art of being patient.

She sat on the bench for her first two seasons at Missouri, only seeing 16 minutes of action during her freshman year.

When her junior year rolled around, Rivers had high hopes of becoming the starting goalkeeper for the Tigers. Then she pulled her quadriceps muscle in preseason camp and had to return to the last place she wanted to be: the bench.

“It was definitely disappointing,” Rivers said. “It was at a very poor time for me because I was feeling very confident in my play after training solidly for two years and getting two years of experience in college.”

Rivers remained on the bench throughout the preseason and midway into the regular season, rehabilitating herself while doing her best to keep a level head. The only time she saw action was in relief of freshman goalkeeper Kelsey Dossey in a match against Purdue.

“Mentally, I waited two years already,” Rivers said. “I think my mental game is pretty strong as (of) right now. I’m a believer in optimism and that your time will always come so I knew it was coming.”

Her chance came when Dossey hyperextended her elbow during practice, opening the window for Rivers.

Rivers has since capitalized on her opportunity. In the seven games that Rivers has started in, Missouri is 4-2-1. Rivers has only allowed seven goals in those games.

For Rivers, the opportunity comes with a sigh of relief.

“It’s been a blessing for sure,” Rivers said. “I’m very grateful that I have gotten that opportunity. It has been a patient game for me but it’s been worth it.”

Despite her setbacks, Rivers does not play with a chip on her shoulder. She believes that her work ethic speaks for itself and for her play.

“I think I prove myself every week in practice,” Rivers said. “I know that my coaches and the people on my team are confident in me. I know that I’ve trained and put in the work so when I go out onto the field it’s not about proving anything. It’s just about playing my game and trying to help my team in the best way that I can.”

A major aspect of Rivers’ game involves constantly shouting instructions to her teammates. This communication is what sets her apart to her coaches and teammates.

“She is very loud, she is very confident and she has very good leadership in back,” coach Molly Schneider said. “The difference for her is communication.”

Rivers believes the better her team communicates, the better her team will play.

“If I don’t see shots, I’m happy because you can’t score shots that you don’t have, so my philosophy is that I’m going to organize my backs as well as I can and help them out as much as I can and hopefully we won’t see shots and we’ll avoid opportunities for the other team,” Rivers said.

Despite Rivers’ successful stint as the first choice goalkeeper, her spot in the starting lineup is not safe. With Dossey healing, there will be another battle goalkeeper position as the Tigers head into Southeastern Conference Championships.

“Dossey is getting healthier and healthier,” coach Bryan Blitz said. “Last week was her first big week of practice. Credit to Kristen, she’s keeping her at bay.”

Rivers continues to make the coaches’ decision tough as she recorded her first career shutout against Georgia. She believes that she has given enough evidence to show that she has the quality to become an everyday starter.

“It’s nice to feel the support of everyone on the team and my coaches and all my family and friends back home,” Rivers said. “It’s just nice to feel that from people and show them that I am here for a reason.”

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