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Barraco owns PSU goal cage

Parkland High School graduate Brie Barraco finished her third competitive season playing field hockey, and fourth overall at Penn State University last fall. She has been a Nittany Lion student-athlete since she graduated from Parkland in 2018, and has loved every minute of it.

“I chose Penn State out of high school because at that point I was in the Future’s program with the US team for high school and middle school players,” said Barraco. “I had built a relationship with the goalie coach at my futures site who was the goalie coach at Penn State.

“I went on a few other visits, but as soon as I visited Penn State I knew that was where I belonged.”

In 2021, Barraco was the full-time starting goalie and helped Penn State to a 14-6 overall record, its most wins in a season since 2017, and a 6-2 mark in the Big10.

“Our season went pretty well,” Barraco said. “Starting out 6-0 was great and it was an amazing feat to make it to the semifinals of the Big10 Tournament. It was also my first time, while actively playing, making it to the NCAA tournament. Obviously, I feel that we have unfinished business and I believe we could’ve gone much further in NCAA and the Big10 with the skill and connection we have, but I know we will have a great team and even better success this upcoming fall.”

Since coming out of her redshirt season as a freshman, Barraco has played nearly every minute of every game in goal for the Nittany Lions over her firs two seasons in State College.

In her third season this fall, Bracco started in all 20 games and played 1227.54 minutes, which amounts to all but six minutes and 47 seconds of game time in helping the Lions go 14-6 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten.

In her first two seasons Barraco played every minute of every Penn State game.

The last year and half for Barraco and her teammates has been challenging with the pandemic.

Penn State did not play a full schedule, or any games at all that fall, but instead was able to play a conference-only schedule in the spring of 2021.

“Fortunately for us, the Big Ten allowed us to have a season last spring, and we were able to play other big 10 teams in the regular season and play for a Big Ten tournament,” said Barraco. “It felt a lot better playing in the fall than in the spring, but I was appreciative to have played two seasons in 2021. It was a really great feeling to be able to have a full season and play out of conference teams as well as have the NCAA tournament.”

Because of her redshirt year as a freshman and the NCAA granted COVID year in 2020, Barraco has a redshirt-senior fifth year this fall and a COVID sixth year in 2023 if she decides to take it. Barraco believes this team can win Penn State its first national championship. The Nittany Lions pretty much have the same team as they did last year, minus three impact seniors, which means there won’t be a lot of rebuilding.

“I did not start my true freshman year, but I’ve pretty much been in the cage every minute of every game since the beginning of my redshirt-freshman season,” Barraco said. “Not being able to play at all my freshman year as I was redshirting was really frustrating and humbling, however it allowed me to focus on the skills I needed to work on to be ready to start the following year. I realize now, not having the pressure of being the starting goalkeeper allowed me to practice freely and make mistakes and try and new things. I have worked really hard to get to this point.”

Barraco’s field hockey career started long before she got to Penn State or even to the Parkland High School program.

“I’ve been playing since I was eight years old and every weekend I would drive down to Pottstown with my mom to either practice or play in tournaments,” she said. “I was really dedicated and I’m grateful to my parents for giving me the opportunity and driving me all over the country to play and get better.

“I was a part of the US futures program since I was in middle school, but I didn’t make a national team until U19 and have been on teams since. The work was hard but simple to me because I genuinely love this sport, I love being a goalkeeper, I love improving, and I hate complacency.”

She feels that her time as a student-athlete in the Parkland program really grew her skills and made her a better player overall and person.

“Parkland allowed me to explore my skill as a goalkeeper and also build my leadership skills as a captain,” said Barraco. “I really learned the game better in my time at Parkland as I was often quite active in games. I got to make an impact in every game and learn tons of different situations and decisions I can make in each situation. My success at Parkland as a goalkeeper also allowed me to build my confidence in myself. I learned how to work hard and understand the lesson that no game is won or lost by any individual and no matter how great or horrible you play its always the team that wins and loses together.”

PRESS PHOTO COURTESY OF CRAIG HOUTZ/PENN STATE ATHLETICS Over the past three seasons on the Penn State field hockey team, Parkland graduate Brie Barraco (12) has played all but six minutes of game time in goal for the Nittany Lions.