Alex and Josh Berney haven’t been playing together competitively for long. The results make it seem as if the Bishop McGuinness soccer brothers have been creating goals together for years.
With Alex being a senior and Josh a freshman, this season is the first opportunity they’ve had to play together for the Class 6A Irish (5-1).
Most recently the pair combined for three goals, two from Josh, in a 3-0 win over Midwest City to claim the Bomber Classic championship last weekend and earn the Berneys The Oklahoman’s co-Player of the Week honors.
“It’s really interesting, because playing in the backyard when we were little almost showed up on the field right away,” said Alex, an attacking midfielder. “I played with my older brother my freshman year, and this has reminded me a lot of that experience. We look for each other out there, and it’s fun to be able to watch my little brother doing the things I remember doing at his age. I can teach him, but also learn from him at the same time.”
Due to being a part of the school’s state runner-up basketball squad, Josh only began practice a couple weeks ago. Last weekend’s three games were the first he had played.
“I’ve known the Berney family for a long time, so I knew what I was getting with Josh coming up as a freshman and I was excited to have him play with (Alex),” said McGuinness coach Billy Martin. “I was interested to see how they would gel together, and the more they’ve played together the more dangerous they’re beginning to look.”
Not to be forgotten in the Berneys' early goal-scoring success has been McGuinness’ stout defense. The Irish have only surrendered three goals in their first six games and registered three shutouts in wins over Classen, U.S. Grant and Midwest City last weekend.
“As long as we defend well, which we have done a great job of this year, then the Berneys really help us out because they will always create chances no matter who you’re playing against,” Martin said. “If we can keep the game 0-0, or keep it close, we know we’ll get those chances eventually.”
Alex said: “It takes a huge load off of an attacking player like me to be able to have that kind of faith in your team that you know they’ve got your back. You have that freedom to create as you can and not really worry about making a turnover because your guys are going to bail you out.”