KARNS CITY, Pa.(EYT/D9) — There are times when Jim Grenninger is happy with what he sees from his Karns City boys soccer team.
Then there are times when he cringes.
(Above, Karns City coach Jim Grenninger watches the action in the second half.)
There was a little of both for Grenninger Thursday night against Brookville.
There was certainly a lot of good. Sophomore Myles McCully scored a pair of goals and sophomore Adam Smith had one in a look ahead at the Gremlins’ bright future in a 3-1 win over the Raiders at Diehl Stadium on Thursday night.
But this night was about the here and now and what Karns City needs to do in the immediate future to get back to the District 9 Class A title game.
“We have four games left and, man, if we play like we did in the first half, we’re not winning any of those four games,” Grenninger said.
The longtime coach’s main complaint was the sloppiness. It led to Brookville’s lone goal of the game off a header by Steven Plyler in the 32nd minute that tied the score at 1-1.
That momentum shift for Brookville (5-10-1) didn’t last long, however.
McCully punched a shot past Brookville keeper Brody Barto just two minutes later to give Karns City the lead for good.
“We responded,” Grenninger said. “Adam and Myles did a really great job up front tonight.”
Karns City (11-2) played must better in the second half. The Gremlins got a goal from McCully just nine minutes into the half for an important insurance goal and limited Brookville’s opportunities on offense.
The game was much closer because of Barto’s strong play in net. The Brookville junior keeper made a number of difficult saves to keep the Raiders within striking distance.
Not bad for a swimmer who just started playing soccer last year.
“He’s been doing that all year,” said Brookville coach Dave Reitz. “He is a difference-maker in goal.”
Reitz wasn’t sure what he had in Barto at first. But he recognized the skills that make for a good keeper.
Namely, instincts and athleticism.
“He doesn’t get caught chasing butterflies very often,” Reitz said. “If he comes out, his ears are pinned back and he’s on it. He has great instincts. He has great reaction. He’s an excellent goalkeeper.”
Reitz has had a few of them in his coaching career.
“We’ve been fortunate enough on the teams that I’ve coached, even when I coached at DuBois, that we had the all-conference goalkeeper year after year after year after year,” Reitz said. “I’m betting Brody Barto is probably going to be all-conference.”
(Karns City defender Mallick Metcalfe makes a play on the ball during the Gremlins’ win over Brookville)
Karns City has also had a run of success. The Gremlins on Tuesday wrapped up their 18th consecutive Upper Allegheny Valley Soccer League title.
“It means a lot to them,” Grenninger said.
What would mean even more is another District 9 title. Karns City beat Punxsutawney last season for the 2A championship.
“You can see the talent we have,” Grenninger said. “The talent is definitely there. We just have to play more consistent. I don’t know if it’s maturity, but sometimes we don’t play well. We played well in that second half.”