Franklin girls soccer coach David Young wasn’t completely sure where to turn when he was in search of a goalkeeper heading into the 2014 season, but he had a pretty decent lead he was willing to follow.
“They didn’t have a goalie, and they didn’t have anybody that wanted to be a goalie,” Allison Barnard said. “So they were like, ‘Hey, your brother’s a goalie, and he’s pretty good at it, so we think you’re going to be good at it.'”
In hindsight, it’s hard to argue with the logic. Allison and Austin Barnard, two of three triplets, have been patrolling the nets for the Grizzly Cub soccer programs ever since, and the results have been pretty positive.
Now in his senior year, Austin has allowed just 15 goals in 14 matches, leading the Franklin boys to a 12-1-2 record and sole possession of the Mid-State Conference championship. Allison, meanwhile, has helped the Grizzly Cub girls to a 7-6-2 overall mark and a second-place league finish.
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Austin has been sporting the goalie gloves for about as long as he can remember.
“Ever since I started playing at 5-years-old and I got put in goal,” he said. “Our team would rotate goalies, and I got put in there, and I just never stopped playing it. I fell in love with it.”
His sister, on the other hand, has taken a more circuitous route to her current position. Allison stopped playing travel soccer in third grade to focus on basketball, and when she came back to play as a defender in seventh grade, she hated it.
She reluctantly gave the keeper job a shot during the summer after her freshman year, and she decided she like the position and her teammates enough to stick with it.
“Goalie kind of suited me,” Allison said.
Though she wasn’t lacking in height or athletic ability, Allison Barnard was still pretty raw in terms of her soccer skills — so she called upon the best reference she knew.
Austin was happy to assist.
“When she started,” he said, “I told her from the get go, ‘Hey, if you ever need anything, come to me. I’ll help you.’ ”
Allison added, “I would beg him to take me outside and practice my goal kicks or my punts,because I knew that since I was new, I didn’t know what I was doing.”
She might not have quite mastered it yet, but Young said he believes Allison possesses enough talent that she could have pursued a career playing in college if she’d wanted to.
“It’s been pretty neat to see their relationship, brother and sister,” Young said. “You can see that the relationship has — their relationship has grown closer because of the fact that they’re both playing the same position.”
The third Barnard triplet, Audrey, hasn’t followed down the same path — she’s passed up sports in favor of the arts — but she’s been very supportive of her two siblings, cheering encouragement from the stands whenever she’s been able to.
“She’s awesome too,” Franklin boys coach Tony Harris said of Audrey. “It’s a really cool family.”
This week, the Franklin soccer family will take aim at a couple of sectional titles. Both the boys and girls teams enter the tournament as underdogs against perennial power Center Grove — but neither group of Grizzly Cubs is about to back down.
“It’s sectionals,” Allison Barnard said. “Everyone’s about 10 times better than they were, and they want that championship. They want to play Center Grove for the championship. So I think that’s what’s driving us right now.”
“Center Grove has won this thing so many times in a row, it’s kind of sad to a certain extent,” Harris said of the boys side, “but we feel like we can go compete.”
Boasting a Barnard as the last line of defense, each team has to like its odds.
Center Grove Sectional
Greenwood vs. Whiteland, 6 p.m.
Center Grove vs. Martinsville, 5 p.m.
Franklin vs. Greenwood-Whiteland winner, 7 p.m.
Championship, 2 p.m.
Greenwood vs. Martinsville, 6 p.m.
Whiteland vs. Franklin, 5 p.m.
Center Grove vs. Greenwood-Martinsville winner, 7 p.m.
Championship, 10 a.m.