Bustos earns stripes as Rams' stopper

Being bestowed with an elite title — one of three members on the Fordham University women's soccer team to hold the respected designation — certainly won't deter Lauren Bustos from continuing her specific role of playing air-tight defense.

Stellar defense has been a staple for Bustos throughout her career. Bustos showed her worth while starring at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, culminating with her twice being named the All-Area Girls' Soccer Player of the Year and earning All-CIF and All-Mission League accolades.

As one of three captains on the Rams, Bustos not only will continue the trend of handling her new role, but hopes to continue her inspired play for a talented Fordham squad seeking to capture the Atlantic-10 Conference championship this season.

There's complete trust in Bustos, a junior defender/center-midfielder, to help lead the way.

“It's a combination of her work ethic and personality out there on the field,” said veteran Fordham Coach Ness Selmani, who tabbed Bustos to share the captaincy role with senior forward Katie Sanchez and senior defender Catherine Huvane. “It's about the way she holds herself together on and off the field.

“She's very quiet, yet does things perfectly. She's a great example of what the other [players] should be like.”

At first, Bustos, 20, was surprised when Selmani announced that she would be a captain.

Then it began to sink in rather steadily.

“It's an honor,” said Bustos, who was tabbed the All-Area Player of the Year following the 2005 and 2006 seasons and helped the Rams post seven shutouts last season. “I just want to try to get into the groove and be able to give mild input.

“It's about just being an observer. I'm more about being self-disciplined because there's always a mental toughness that needs to be there.”

In 27 matches played at Fordham, Bustos has notched three assists. However, her contributions on Fordham's side of the field have helped make Bustos one of the top defenders in the conference.

The Rams, who advanced to the conference championship match the past two years, compiled a school-record 0.84 goals-against-average last season. Bustos competed in all 20 matches, starting 19.

“She came here and made a smooth transition,” said Selmani, a two-time Atlantic-10 Conference Coach of the Year pick. “She's got excellent speed, calmness and a vision about her game, and she doesn't get panicky.

“There's no way to get through her. I feel very comfortable with her back there for us.”

Bustos finished with 39 career points in 95 matches played at Flintridge Sacred Heart. She helped the Tologs advance to the CIF Southern Section playoffs during her four-year stay and twice earned All-Mission League Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Bustos learned plenty at Flintridge Sacred Heart under co-coaches Frank Pace and Kathy Desmond.

“They helped me realize my strengths and how to help my teammates out,” Bustos said. “Now, I can see the field better.”

That part of her game hasn't left since making the move to Fordham, located in Bronx, N.Y.

Senior forward Kim Boulos, who arrived at Fordham last season after transferring from the University of South Carolina, said there's a significant trust factor with Bustos.

“I know that she will win all of the battles,” said Boulos, who notched all-conference second-team honors after recording a team-best six goals and 12 points last season. “I trust her back there more than almost anybody I've played with.

“I'm the type of player that will like to come back and play defense. Once she wins the battle, she gets the ball right to me.”

The Rams will take on one of the program's most difficult schedules this season, highlighted with nonconference matches against powerhouses North Carolina and Duke and defending conference champion Charlotte.

No matter the opponent, Bustos will be ready to take on all attackers.

“My personal goal is to not let us let any goals in,” Bustos said. “There's always room for improvement because it's not OK to be content.”


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