WEIRTON - Josh Barney had a lot of opportunities to play soccer at the next level.
But, few of those places had Barney's major - petroleum engineering.
"It was exhausting," the Weir High graduate said of the college visits. "In the back of my mind, I felt that I would go to WVU, but, I wanted to go to other schools to see what was different and what everybody else had to offer. WVU was the best pick for me.
TO BE A MOUNTAINEER — Weir High graduate Josh Barney, flanked by his parents George and Mary Jo, will continue his academic and athletic careers at West Virginia University, where he will major in petroleum engineering and be an invited walk-on to the soccer team. Also on hand were, from left, Weir High Athletic Director Mike DelRe, soccer coach Joe Pepe and Principal Dan Enich.
-- Mike Mathison
"I went to a lot of places, but I kept comparing all of the places to WVU. I felt comfortable at WVU and they had my major. I had been at WVU for soccer camps since I was a freshman, so it was just a place where I felt comfortable going to school and trying to play soccer."
Barney will be an invited walk-on for the Mountaineers.
"I know I have a lot of work to do," he said. "I really like the challenge of working to play at that level."
Barney was looking at many schools to further his careers, but academics kept leading the discussion.
"I wanted to go to a school with petroleum engineering and a school that had a soccer program that would challenge my skills and bring out the best soccer player I can be," said Barney. "There's only about 20 schools in the country that have petroleum engineering, so that made the choice a little bit easier."
Barney finished his career as a Red Rider at 48-11-5. He totaled 76 games, 23 shutouts and 575 saves as a four-year letterman, the final three as the starter.
"We're going to miss him," said Weir coach Joe Pepe. "He was a great leader for us."
Barney was a first-team all-stater as a senior. He was also all-OVAC and was a member of West Virginia's North-South all-star game, as well as the OVAC all-star contest.
"I had a great time playing soccer for Weir High," said Barney, who averaged allowing 1.197 goals per game during his career. "Petroleum engineering and how successful the program is are the two main reasons why I chose WVU.
"It (playing at a Division I school) wasn't a main focus, but I think that's a definite advantage going to a school like WVU that is successful."
Barney started to look at playing collegiate soccer his sophomore year, when he officially turned in his hockey skates for soccer shoes.
"I was big into hockey until that year," he said. "I was playing in Pittsburgh and was coached by Mario Lemieux and Dave Hannon. It was something I did and had a lot of fun with, but I just enjoyed soccer more, so I decided to stick with that.
"I like the feeling in soccer where sometimes the game can rest on my shoulders. The shootouts this year was the most enjoyable part of the year for me."
Barney stoned a shootout shot in the West Virginia Class AA-A semifinals to send the Red Riders into the championship game, a loss to Charleston Catholic. He did the same thing earlier against Wheeling Central, stopped the fifth shot and then the first shot in the second round to allow Weir to advance in the sectional round.
"I've always been more defensive minded," Barney said about playing goalie in soccer and defense in hockey. "If you don't get scored on, you don't lose. I enjoyed the pressure of the shootouts."
Barney knows he didn't make it to this point alone.
"I would like to thank coach Pepe. He gave me the opportunity to start for three years," said Barney. "I also want to thank my parents for all they have done for me.
"I want to thank all my other coaches. Rich Salvini, my premier coach in Pittsburgh. He and coach Pepe are the reason I am able to do what I can today. They are who I have learned everything from."