Riverview keeper Brun used trip to Belgium to expand her game, help Raiders reach state final

Thursday, November 16, 2023 | 7:00 PM

Chiara Brun spent last season taking classes and playing club soccer in Belgium.

She would keep tabs on her Riverview soccer teammates, following their path through the section games to the WPIAL Class A playoffs.

When she came back to Riverview for her junior year and her second season with the Raiders, Brun had a sense of excitement that this team would be special.

She was right.

Brun will be right in the mix Saturday in Mechanicsburg starting her 25th game of the season in goal as the history-making Raiders play District 1 champion Christopher Dock Mennonite at 10 a.m. for the PIAA Class A championship.

“It was an amazing feeling to come back to a team that was full of really good players and a lot of potential,” said Brun who has helped the Riverview defense allow just 26 goals in 24 games. “I definitely got the experience of a lifetime in Belgium.

“Soccer is so important in many countries in Europe. I saw the game from a different perspective. I learned so many things, both in soccer and out. I was so happy to bring all that I learned back to Riverview and to the girls I’ve known my whole life and have grown up with. It was amazing.

Said coach Sean Abraham: “Chiara said she didn’t play a lot of keeper over there, but she played some and also got some field experience, so she came back a more well-rounded player. She just built on her experience, and it’s made her a more confident player.”

Brun made three saves in a lighter-than-expected night of work Tuesday in Riverview’s 4-1 PIAA semifinal victory over District 6 champion Bishop Guilfoyle.

“The girls trust her to make big saves, and she has done that in a number of big games this year,” Abraham said.

She recorded 10 saves in the 1-0 WPIAL-title loss to Freedom.

“She still beats herself up about that goal, but she, the coaches, and the rest of the girls talked about when things happen like that, it isn’t any one person,” Abraham said. “There were a number of things that led to that goal and the ultimate outcome, but with everything else, it’s a great learning experience. Don’t forget, she made some really nice saves for us to keep us in the game.”

Springdale junior standout Briana Ross scored in the 20th minute of the PIAA quarterfinal game with Riverview last Saturday.

But Brun responded, recording a couple of key stops against Ross.

Brun used her foot to stop a shot attempt on a point-blank opportunity in the 23rd minute. She dove to halt another Ross offering a few minutes later.

Abraham said he saw the talent in Brun even before she arrived to the varsity team as a freshman two years ago. Her play right out of the gate in 2021 made Abraham take notice even more.

“She came in as a freshman and made an impact there,” Abraham said. “She made strides in her game with time on defense and time in goal, too. You could see that she had talent for both positions and was only going to get better.”

As Brun established herself on the varsity team as a freshman, she now sees younger sister Juliette making her own mark as a freshman defender and backup keeper.

“Juliette and I have always played defensive and goalie positions as we grew up in soccer on different clubs,” Chiara said. “So both of us came into the season ready to play both positions. The goal at the start of the season — and we talked this over with the coaches — was for us to play both positions. We would switch off at keeper at halftime of each game. But as the season went on, both Juliette and I kind of found where we fit the best and played to the best of our ability. It clicked for both of us, and it’s worked ever since.”

Juliette scored her first goal of the season off a corner kick in the second half against Springdale, and the goal turned out to be the game-winner. Chiara said she couldn’t have been more happy for her sister to come through in such a key situation.

“I was so excited to know that we were going to be together as teammates, and we’ve grown so much closer from that,” Chiara Brun said.

“It’s even more special to share the run through WPIALs and this run through states along with everyone else.

“Because it was a corner kick, I was up off of my line at the 18 almost to the half, just so I can be ready in case of a breakaway. Juliette has moved up for corners, especially recently. She is so tall and so good at corners. The ball was bouncing around in there, and I was getting nervous. But she took an amazing shot, and that feeling of seeing your sister score such a meaningful goal in a big game, it was amazing. I was so proud.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.


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