Barone tries to hold young East Allegheny soccer team together
For three high school soccer seasons, Vinny Barone has been a scoring machine. He entered 2013 with 90 career goals, but through six games, the East Allegheny senior had scored just four times.
“Much more difficult getting him the ball this year,” first-year East Allegheny coach Josh Miller said. “We're banged up with injuries, so we're struggling.”
The hobbled Wildcats, who've been missing three key players, including goalkeeper Will Marshall, are winless (0-6, 0-6) following a 2-1 loss to Valley in a Section 1-AA game Thursday night, having scored a total of just six goals.
Barone, a forward who has made a verbal commitment to American University, is contributing to East Allegheny's season in a different way.
“I am not one to give up,” he said. “I want to be out there for the freshmen and sophomores, for the underclassmen and the guys who haven't had a lot of varsity experience.”
With four-year starters Marshall (possible torn quad muscle), sweeper Mike Tassos (hamstring, quad, ankle) and midfielder Tyler Benson (quad) limited for much of the time, Miller has had to rely on inexperienced underclassmen in key positions.
“We've been able to hold teams down on the offensive end, but we're really having trouble transitioning from the back to the front (on offense), and we just can't seem to get many shots on goal,” Miller said. “Hopefully, we can get our team back for the second half of the season, and we can get Vinny and our offense going.”
Barone, who intends to sign his letter of intent to American during the fall period, was among an elite group of 15 players selected to travel in May to Germany as part of the U.S. Olympic Development Program.
“Believe me, it was a life-changing experience,” Barone said. “It definitely changed my outlook on the game. It inspired me to want to be the best I can be in this sport.”
Barone scored one goal and added an assist for the U.S. team, which scored just five goals in posting a 2-2-2 record during the tour.
“All the games were like 1-0. We played against all these other countries, and we competed well,” he said. “We are producing great soccer players up and down the East Coast and throughout this country. We were as good as every team there.”
While East Allegheny hasn't been able to win yet, Barone is proud of the way the Wildcats were handling the adversity.
“We've got a group who's out there busting, and I can't ask for more,” he said. “I'm not worried about anything else. Hopefully, the wins will come. But if we work hard and enjoy ourselves, that's what counts.”
Miller, a former East Allegheny player and assistant coach who attended Duquesne and played soccer for the Dukes, is disappointed that Barone hasn't been able to show his true soccer skills. But he's proud of how Barone has handled the season so far.
“For me,” Barone said, “it all resorts back to one important factor. My mom and dad taught me everything in life. The No. 1 thing they taught me is you've got to hide your emotions. You've got to act like a man. That's how it is. I want to act like a man out on the field and play through this, keep fighting.
“The key thing for us now is to try and keep everyone involved and have a good time.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.