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Holden Brown, once a monolith in goal, announces transfer to Indiana

Brown’s departure elevates Joey Batrouni, the starter for most of this season, to a position of unchallenged supremacy

<p>Holden Brown, once a stalwart between the sticks for the Cavaliers, is transferring to Indiana.</p>

Holden Brown, once a stalwart between the sticks for the Cavaliers, is transferring to Indiana.

Senior goalkeeper Holden Brown — who played every minute in goal for the Virginia men’s soccer program his sophomore and junior years, before suffering a major injury midway through this season — announced March 13 via Instagram his decision to transfer to Indiana for his final years of eligibility. 

“Excited to return home for my remaining years of eligibility,” Brown said in the caption. “Go Hoosiers!”

Brown included in the post a younger photo of himself wearing an Indiana t-shirt — he grew up in Zionsville, Ind., about 70 miles from Indiana’s campus in Bloomington.

Brown, one of Virginia’s captains in 2023, sustained a season-ending PCL injury during practice just eight games into the season. The injury occurring so early in the season allowed him to obtain a medical redshirt, giving him an extra year of eligibility in addition to the COVID year granted to all NCAA athletes. In the injury’s aftermath, back in October, he fielded a question about whether he would use both years.

“One,” Brown said. “Not two, hopefully not. Maybe. I guess you never know.”

It remains uncertain, clearly even to Brown himself, whether he will exercise both years or just one. He will, regardless, enter a powerhouse Indiana program, two years removed from reaching the national title game and one year removed from ousting Virginia from the NCAA Tournament.

Brown leaves behind a significant legacy. For two seasons — 37 consecutive games — he played every single minute — all 3,477 of them. He sits eighth on the program career minutes list for goalkeepers, 10th on the list for career clean sheets and second in the program standings for single-season saves.

While he is leaving, that type of longevity stamps an indelible imprint, a lasting image of the tall, immovable goalkeeper who patrolled the posts at Klöckner Stadium.

But a robust, blooming goalkeeper union remains in Charlottesville. Brown’s injury kicked open the door for junior Joey Batrouni, an offseason transfer from Coastal Carolina, who seemed increasingly likely to barge through the door anyway. 

Batrouni assumed the starting position after Brown’s injury, keeping four clean sheets in 12 appearances and anchoring the Cavaliers during a 10-game unbeaten run that started, in an interesting twist, the game following Brown’s injury. Perhaps Batrouni’s burgeoning stardom contributed to Brown’s decision to transfer — it likely would have been difficult to dislodge Batrouni from the starting spot. Batrouni and Brown, though, had an excellent relationship. 

“I love Joey,” Brown said in October. “Joey’s one of my best friends on the team, actually. Even when we were competing for the spot in the beginning of the semester. Great guy, hard working.”

Batrouni and Brown battled for the starting spot last summer, and the competition remained active even as the season began. Batrouni played once in those first eight matches, in the second game which turned into a 3-1 loss to Loyola Marymount. The decisive loss suspended the goalkeeper battle, handing the reins fully back to Brown, the trusted starter.

But Batrouni kept working, nipping at Brown’s heels. He earned the start against East Tennessee State, in the ninth game of the season, giving him another chance to present a case for the starting role. Then the PCL tear plagued Brown, terminating his season and making Batrouni the unchallenged starter.

The Cavaliers are in sturdy hands with Batrouni — and a stuffed goalkeeper union sits behind him. Junior Scott Williams, a top recruit out of high school, has struggled with nagging injuries his entire college career but figures to return at some point. Freshman Caleb Tunks and sophomore Collin Gallagher also provide meaningful options in the future.

But goalkeeper training, despite the depth that remains, will probably feel somewhat empty without Brown, whether he is diving around making saves or leaning nearby on crutches. Once a fixture in goal, he now leaves an enduring legacy as he charts a new path with Indiana. Meanwhile, Virginia keeps chugging forward with Batrouni.

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