Amber Bustard is going to be crazy busy Saturday, and she plans to love every minute.
The recent Roland Park graduate, a four-year standout goalie on the Reds lacrosse team, will be stopping shots for the South squad at the 14th annual Under Armour All-America Girls Lacrosse Game, set for 5:30 p.m. at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field.
She arrives with plenty of experience, having made 639 saves in her career at Roland Park — including 187 this spring to help the Reds to a 12-7 season.
The task of trying to shut down the most talented players in the country might seem daunting to some, but Bustard, an All-Metro second-team selection this season, welcomes the challenge.
“I just feel like it’s going to be an awesome experience, and it will be great to see what it’s like to play with the best players in my class and to be able to just have fun on the field, but also challenge myself,” she said.
When talking about Bustard, Roland Park coach Meg Miller described the ideal goalie to handle Saturday’s demanding assignment.
“Amber is someone who gives you a lot of confidence as a teammate and coach,” she said. “She’s able to make big-time saves — one-on-none saves — and anything that she sees, she believes she’s capable of making that save. Her patience, her technique, her mentality about how she approaches her position is pretty unbelievable and has led to a lot of success for our program.”
The recreation team she played on when she first picked up lacrosse in the second grade needed a goalie, and she figured, “Why not give it a try?” She said the position came naturally to her, and being good at something was encouraging. These days for Bustard, there’s no better feeling than being completely ready to stop a shot to help the team win.
“One of the aspects is confidence and being able in that second not to doubt yourself, knowing you practiced and prepared for it. And then, it’s all reaction,” she said. “You don’t have time to second-guess yourself. It’s just like being set and keeping your eye on the ball and nothing else matters besides where that ball goes.”
Bustard, who has committed to Loyola Maryland, will have plenty of familiar company Saturday. Among the 22 players on the South roster, 10 others are from the Baltimore area, including Roland Park teammate Kiki Shaw and six others that played in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.
“I think it’s great,” Bustard said. “Some of the other girls I’ve played with in club and those I haven’t played with, I played against them. It’s awesome, and I can’t wait to play with them and have fun with them on the field.”
Shaw, a standout midfielder for the Reds, said the competition in the IAAM has been an ideal primer for playing at the next level as well as in Saturday’s showcase. She’s excited to take the field with Bustard one final time before heading to Virginia to play her college ball.
“Amber is an amazing goalie. She definitely saved us in so many games,” she said. “I can think of a ton of games where we could have been in trouble and she just came up with an amazing save that helped us.”
Bustard is going to give her best to do the same Saturday.
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“Of course, it’s an all-star game and a really big deal, but I feel like I’m going to treat it like any other game, prepare the same way and not let my nerves get to me,” she said.