Soccer: Barnes joins Panthers as coach

By Lauren Kirschman

Pitt men’s soccer coach Joe Luxbacher recently named former goalkeeper Eric Barnes graduate… Pitt men’s soccer coach Joe Luxbacher recently named former goalkeeper Eric Barnes graduate assistant and goalkeepers’ coach.

Barnes, who is currently a Pitt law student, played his last two seasons with the Panthers after transferring from George Mason University in Virginia.

This isn’t Barnes’s first coaching experience, though. He said he worked with local club teams while at George Mason. He also plans on continuing his playing career with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the United Soccer Leagues Second Division.

“I’ve been coaching for probably four or five years, and I was part of the team the last two years, so it kind of made sense to stay on the coaching staff if they wanted me,” Barnes said. “I actually started in January training the goalkeepers because we didn’t have a goalkeeper coach my last year on the team.”

While at Pitt, Barnes collected six wins and two shuts outs and finished with a 1.42 goals-against average and 88 saves.

“He’s a self-starter,” Luxbacher said. “He’s always working. He’s a good guy and he’s an excellent example because he’s a hard worker, a self-motivated guy, and he knows the position.”

Before becoming a Panther, Barnes played two years at George Mason, where he had a 0.99 goals-against average and a .808 save percentage. In 2006, Barnes earned the Martin Dunphy Goalkeeper of the Year Award, which is George Mason’s yearly award for the best goaltender on the team.

Luxbacher said it’s important for the team to have one coach who works with the goalies for a few different reasons.

“It’s necessary to have a guy who works with the goalkeepers everyday, not just physically, but psychologically,” Luxbacher said. “He knows the rigors and he knows what they go through.”

Barnes said his Pitt playing experience is helpful, because he can prepare the goalkeepers for Big East conference play.

“I know the returning goalkeeper [Zack Matthews], and I know what he needs to work on in order to succeed in the Big East,” Barnes said.

Luxbacher said Barnes was a natural choice because of his attention to detail and the training he put in on his own time while he was a player. He said he looks for those qualities in both players and coaches.

Barnes said he hopes to help the players on the field, as well as off it.

“I’m definitely younger than the rest of the coaching staff, so maybe I can relate to [the players] more,” Barnes said. “It’s definitely a balance between being the coach and being there for whatever other issues come up with the players.”