Bush makes most out of his adversity


That moment in a game nearly a year ago has continued to haunt Brad Bush.

Calvert Hall had been hammering away at the Curley keeper, having a 20-7 advantage in shots -- 12-1 in the second half. Yet the game, last year's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship, had remained scoreless primarily because of several saves by Bush.

Then came that fateful miscue with 13:45 left. Bush knelt to scoop a routine through ball about five yards in front of the goal. Unchallenged, he first bobbled, then dropped the ball, which bounced right to the Cardinals' Dave Federline just a few steps from the goal.

Federline tapped it into the empty net for a 1-0 victory.

"I thought about that [sequence] all year long, and it motivated me during the summer," said Bush. "I came back this year with a lot more confidence and I think I'm a better goalie technically. I just wanted a chance to show it. I wanted a chance to pay back Calvert Hall."

Last Wednesday, Bush got that chance in a scoreless tie. Wherever the ball was, it seemed Bush was there also, doing whatever was necessary to stop 18 of the Cardinals' 22 shots.

Sometimes, he rose above the crowd to pluck throw-ins, corner kicks or direct kicks from the air, or used a double-fisted punch to hammer the ball out of harm's way. Other times, Bush dove to snatch the ball from the feet of an on-rushing opponent, or slid for a timely kick-save.

The game-ending whistle sounded, and with the saddle of guilt off his back, Bush -- all 6-feet-3, 180 pounds of him -- stood that much taller.

"It was a physical game all around, and when there was a loose ball, I was like, 'I'm going to get it, and anyone who challenges me is going down with me,' " said Bush. "On free kicks and set pieces, I told myself, 'Every ball is mine,' and I never second-guessed.

"I guess the stuff I worked on in the summer paid off, because I think I showed them that I'm a good goalie."

Bush apparently earned the respect of several Calvert Hall players, who congratulated him on his effort afterward.

"You can just see a tremendous change in Brad's attitude and his technical skills, it's like, once you're inside 18 yards of the goal, that's his domain," said ninth-year coach Pep Perrella, whose No. 2 Friars are 7-0-1.

"His hands are better, and so is his poise. He's more vocal and demonstrative, so the players feel they have a goalie they can look up to."

That final game of 11 months ago overshadowed an otherwis brilliant season by Bush, who allowed only nine goals and had eight of the Friars' 10 shutouts last year. Bush, who allowed two goals in just one game last season, credited the leadership of second-team All-Metro sweeper Greg Loftus, who has graduated.

"My defense busted their butts for me every game, and I learned a lot from those guys. But Dave Malley and I are the only veteran seniors on this team, so I knew I had to step up and fill some big shoes," said Bush.

"Being a keeper, I try to do the same thing for the younger players that was done for me. You have to talk a lot, take charge."

Said junior stopper Jamie Becker: "With Brad back there, I can go forward through the midfield whenever I need to because I don't feel like I have to worry about getting caught out of position."

His best punts have traveled 80 yards, Perrella said. His endurance is greater from a summer of running two miles daily, and his body more durable from weight-lifting every other day.

This year, Bush has allowed four goals in eight games with foushutouts, but the statistic he appreciates more than perhaps any other is that he has not allowed a player to score a goal by header.

"I feel a lot stronger in the air, and more confident going for loose balls," said Bush. "And when I get going, I feel like I can dominate."

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