Dec. 6, 2013
Freshman kicker steps into important playoff roleBy David Boyce | Northwest vs. St. Cloud State | Saturday, Dec. 7 | Noon | Bearcat Stadium
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MARYVILLE, Mo. - When the Northwest Missouri State football team takes on St. Cloud State noon Saturday at Bearcat Stadium in the NCAA Division II Quarterfinals, don’t be surprised if redshirt freshman Simon Mathiesen lines up for an important field goal.
Mathiesen became an integral part of the Bearcats in the ninth week of the season when redshirt freshman Ben Trewyn threw out his back before the Washburn game.
On short notice, Mathiesen made all seven of the extra points and a 22-yard field goal, making it a successful debut for a student-athlete who spent last year at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark.
His impact was even greater last week in the second round of the playoffs against Minnesota Duluth. In a scoreless game late in the second quarter, Mathiesen gave the Bearcats a 3-0 lead with a 25-yard field goal. Northwest went on to win 45-21.
“Obviously, as an offensive player, every time we get down the field, we want to get seven points,” said senior offensive lineman Jake Scarbo. “Around this time of the year, playoff football, it doesn’t always happen with the good defenses you see.
“To be able to get three points, at least, is very important.”
Mathiesen’s road, or more accurately, cross Atlantic flight from Denmark to Maryville is one filled with ambition and desire to play college football in the United States.
During the spring, special teams coach Ken Gordon received a few texts from wide receiver coach Joel Osborn and graduate assistant coach Kendal Wright about a placekicker.
Northwest football team needed of a reliable kicker after Todd Adolf concluded a highly successful career last season.
Gordon knew nothing about Mathiesen.
Mathiesen, who was born in New York City and has dual citizenship, started playing football at the age of 15. He felt he was good enough to play at the Division II level.
“It is hard to get recruited from Denmark,” Mathiesen said. “I sent out some tapes and info about myself to around 70 schools. I was looking at top 25 schools in Division II. I then got into contact with 10 schools.”
Osborn and Wright, Gordon said, kept him informed, especially when Mathiesen came for a visit. Gordon was out of town.
“They e-mailed him back and forth,” Gordon said. “They texted me and said we found a kid from Denmark.
“I went what?”
Gordon used a higher-pitch inflection to his voice when he said what, sounding like he didn’t believe what he was hearing.
“I said text me and let me know how he is,” Gordon said. “They ended up calling me and saying he can kick with both feet. I went what.
“He just kicks the ball and gets it through the uprights and that is the No. 1 thing. With kickers, I don’t mess with how they prepare for stuff. They have their own way. He has his own way and doing a good job.” For most of the season, Trewyn was the placekicker. In practice, the two kickers pushed each other.
“Simon came in and kicked against Washburn and hasn’t blinked since,” Gordon said. “He is the field goal kicker and Ben kicks off.
“It is good for us. They challenge each other. That is the good thing to have some competition. They give each other good competition. Right now Simon is a little bit better field goal kicker and Ben is better kicking off.”
When Mathiesen was 17 years old, he started thinking about playing football in college in the United States.
“I felt I had the level to play over here,” Mathiesen said. “I had high ambition and I wanted to come over here and challenge myself.
“I was here in the spring for a visit and the coaches seemed very nice. I liked the atmosphere. I met some of the players and had a good time with them. It was actually a pretty easy choice to come here because I didn’t have that many options.”
It is that sense of adventure that is giving Mathiesen experiences that will stay with him for a lifetime, and most likely help him in the business world.
His father’s financial job is what brought him and his parents to New York City.
“He works in the financial sector,” Mathiesen said. “He wanted to get out of the big city. That is why we moved back to Denmark.”
Football is what brought Mathiesen to the small town of Maryville.
“I love it here,” Mathiesen said. “Of course, there are some cultural differences. Food is one thing. AD (Northwest head coach Adam Dorrel) makes fun of me all the time because I don’t like all the fried food.
“I love being a college student here. I love the university. I like being part of this very successful team.
“One of the reasons I wanted to play for Northwest is I looked up its traditions and history; it is such a winning program. I wanted to be part of it. When I came here, I knew I might get to compete for a national championship.”
After each victory in the playoffs, the pressure builds, as teams get closer to the ultimate goal of reaching Florence, Ala., for the national championship game.
Every point means something, whether it is an extra point or a field goal. Three or fewer points many times decide playoff games.
“To be honest with you,” Mathiesen said, “I don’t think about things when I am out there playing, especially when I am kicking. I just have to get the ball through the uprights. I don’t think about if I miss. I just go out and do my thing.”
Gordon wants that mentality in his field goal kickers.
“They have to be ready to go at anytime because you never know what is going to happen,” Gordon said. “The one thing about Simon, I don’t think he understands Bearcat Nation. All he knows is kick the ball and get it through the uprights. He has done a great job of it.”
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