Playing goalie since her freshman year, Bremen co-op senior Melissa Barrios has developed a comfort level in the net.
“It really does help having experience,” she said. “I learned a lot from previous goalies that we’ve had. All the experience has helped me start becoming more confident in goal.”
Barrios should be confident. After all, she’s anchored one of the area’s best defenses this season. Bremen is 22-7 and has been tough to score on all year.
“Melissa is a really strong goalie,” Bremen coach Todd Strein said. “We want to be a strong defensive team and it starts with her being solid in goal.”
Barrios said the team’s success begins with team chemistry.
“It’s built on friendship,” she said. “We all trust each other. We know that it’s OK if you don’t get that shot, we’re not going to be mad at you. We’re going to keep playing as a team.”
Barrios enjoys directing the team from the goal. She’s become a motivational leader as well.
“I absolutely love having girls coming to me and talking to me,” she said. “I love to help the girls out and be a mentor to them. I definitely needed that when I was a freshman and sophomore and I want to be that for other girls now.”
Barrios has been a swimmer for seven years and began playing water polo her freshman year.
“I was like ‘What’s water polo? Why not try it,’ ” she said. “I loved it immediately. I love the aggression and the team competitiveness. It’s not one-on-one like swimming. Everybody has to work together to be one.”
Barrios is hoping Bremen can make a run at the Stagg Sectional, beginning with Thursday’s quarterfinals. The Red Jaguars are seeded third behind Mother McAuley and Sandburg. Barrios made 10 saves in a 6-4 win over McAuley last month.
“A lot of us have four years playing with each other,” Barrios said. “We know now how we all play together and work together. I think we are going to give everyone else a run for their money.”