The man between the posts

When a soccer fan thinks of a top-tier goalkeeper, giants like Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon and David de Gea come to mind. At Bradley University, a graduate transfer from Seton Hall University comes to mind. His name is Brandon Barnes.

Being a graduate student-athlete, Barnes was given one year of eligibility to play for the Braves. While at Bradley, hell be pursuing a masters degree in mechanical engineering.

Barnes noted how fond he was of his time at Seton Hall and was excited to make the move to Peoria for both academic and athletic reasons alike.

My time at Seton Hall was a great experience, because it prepared me for the next step in my athletic career, Barnes said. Bradley University was my choice to pursue a masters degree, because, in combination with being closer to home, I knew the reputation for both athletic and academic success that Bradley carried.

Barnes, who joins the Hilltop from a Big East Conference school, brings a lot of experience to the team. Luckily, he ended up being a perfect fit to replace last years keeper, Logan Ketterer, who is now playing professionally in the MLS as a backup goalie for the Columbus Crew.

At the start of the season, head coach Jim DeRose said that he and his coaches were determining who would get to start: Barnes or redshirt-sophomore Albert Reinwart.

Replacing Logan [Ketterer] is different, DeRose said. The graduate transfer [Brandon Barnes] and Albert [Reinwart] battled through preseason, and both will be used this year. Brandons experience in the Big East [Conference] and previous four years got him the start.

Filling the shoes of Ketterer wouldnt be easy, but after Barnes impressed during the preseason, DeRose and his coaching staff said they knew the goalkeepers skill would earn him the start for the Braves in the season-opener against Gonzaga University. His continued success has earned him the starting role for all of the Braves matches.

Now, more than half way through the season, Barnes has been able to produce incredible results for the Braves. He has a 0.73 goals against average, 0.88 goals saved average, 71 total saves and has obtained seven clean sheets, all within 13 games.

Barnes commented that his unique play style, inspired by Arsenal FC goalkeeper Petr Čech, has enabled him to provide the seven shutouts and many saves hes had so far this season.

Growing up, I idolized Petr Čech and learned from watching him on how to be a shot stopper and a commanding presence in the box, Barnes said. I think every goalkeeper has their own unique play style, but they pull aspects of professional goalkeepers game and make it their own.

When asked if he had any pre-game rituals, Barnes didnt hesitate in sharing his personal routine, which includes help from freshman defender Jordan Walpole.

My routine starts with Jordan Walpole holding my shin guards for me while I wrap them, Barnes said. Next I put my shoes on, but I wait till our pregame talk to tie them. Its a way for me to lock-in before we step out onto the field. When I run back to the goal before the game starts, I have to touch the right post, shuffle 5 times to the left post, and touch it two times before walking back to center.

Barnes was selected as the MVC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 19 and then again for the following two weeks on Sept. 26 and Oct. 3. He also won the online Twitter poll for the Bradley Athlete of the Month award for September.