Former Warrior starring for MC

Raeli Barnes is a road warrior.

The Marietta College freshman striker leads the women’s soccer team in scoring with five goals, and all of the net-benders have come at away games.

On Tuesday, Barnes notched a hat trick in MC’s 3-2 triumph at Thiel College in Greenville, Pa. Earlier, this month, she had one goal apiece in Pioneer wins at Bethany (W.Va.) College and Geneva (Pa.) College.

Marietta currently owns a 6-3-1 overall record, going into Saturday’s OAC (Ohio Athletic Conference) opener at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea.

Of course, putting the ball into the back of the net is nothing new to Barnes, who played her prep soccer at Warren High in Vincent. There, under the guidance of head coach Ekrem Eksi, the talented Warrior booter finished with 101 goals, 23 in her senior season and 35 in her junior year.

She got her 100th score in a 2-1 triumph over Alexander.

Thing is, Barnes almost didn’t attend Marietta College. Originally, the two-time Warrior all-stater verbally committed and then signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her education and play soccer at Patrick Holguin-coached West Virginia Wesleyan College, an NCAA Division II school, located in Buckhannon, W.Va.

She was even going to get some scholarship money.

“Women’s soccer is considered a big sport there,” said Barnes on signing day. “They have a lot of fans. I also like the campus, and the team is nationally ranked.”

Holguin, incidentally, once coached soccer for 12 years at Marietta College.

Lo and behold, though, Barnes ultimately had a change of mind and heart — and MC became the beneficiary.

“Well, Marietta College was my first choice, and I just decided I wanted to be close to home and with my family,” Barnes said. “I feel like it’s a better fit for me.”

MC naturally was tickled with Barnes’ decision. Help was on the way as the Tracy Blasius-led Pioneers went winless with a 0-19-0 last season.

Not only that but Marietta scored only a grand total of five goals the entire season.

Barnes, of course, has that many already. And, her hat trick was the program’s first since 1999.

And, the Pioneer booters have more victories now since winning eight matches in 2007.

Barnes, who has been playing soccer since she was 4-years-old, is one of 18 freshmen on the Marietta roster. And, needless to say, the program’s resurgence can be attributed to these “rookies.”

The future never looked brighter.

The former Warrior standout is still seeking her first collegiate assist on the pitch. She actually prefers sharing the ball with her teammates.

“I actually like passing more than I do scoring,” Barnes once said.

Well, in time, she’ll get that first assist.

Maybe, it’ll be at BW this weekend?

In time, Barnes will also score her first goal on MC’s home pitch at Marietta Field.

Who knows, maybe it’ll be against visiting John Carroll University on Friday, Oct. 7, at 4 p.m.

Barnes is the daughter of Tyler and Tina Barnes. She has an older sister in Addison Barnes, and her grandparents are Tim and Connie Barnes, and George and Penny Dalton.

Ron Johnston is a Marietta Times sports writer, and can be reached at (740)373-2121, x534, or at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com

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