Brush aiming high after stellar US stint

Ellie Brush is back and wanting more in Season 8 of the WWL.

Stalwart Canberra United defender Ellie Brush will don the green shirt for the eighth season this October following her outstanding campaign with Houston Dash in the Women’s National Soccer League in the United States.

Brush claimed the Dash ‘Defender of the Year’ award following a stellar season for the Houston franchise, returning to the national capital in bullish mood ahead of a Westfield W-League journey in which United hope to become the first team to go back-to-back and reclaim the title won in some style against Perth Glory last December. 

“I am really looking forward to the challenge of trying to go back to back this year as obviously it hasn’t been done before so we are aiming for as high as we can go,” Brush said on a blustery afternoon in Canberra. “I am excited to work with the new girls that we have on board and we will see how we go. But we are looking in good form.

“I would love to go through undefeated, concede no goals and the strikers to score lots! In an ideal world that would be awesome [laughs]! It is clichéd but we honestly do take it week by week and we are not looking past that first game in Brisbane at the moment and, even though it is a few weeks away, it will definitely be tough and we are working solely on that game now. It’s important to get off to a good start and get a good base for the season. We saw last year how tight it was and I think it will be very similar this year.”

The United Foundation Player, who has made more appearances for the club than anyone else (81 and counting) took her game to another level with Houston during her successful WNSL sojourn. 

“It was awesome. I spent the Westfield W-League ‘off-season’ with a full-on stint in the Women’s National Soccer League in the USA and it was an amazing experience,” Brush confirmed. “The training environment was perfect, conditions were great and it was a challenge at training every day and it improved me as a player. It was a great challenge.

“I love putting myself in that position and seeing how I did against some of the best strikers in the world and seeing how I went in that area. It improved me in the mental side of the game. Sometimes, back here in the W-League, the forwards can switch off, whereas in the USA the speed of play is so fast that you need to be focused every minute or else you will get punished. Decision making needs to be quicker and you need to communicate better and react faster. The gap is closing between the W-League and the USA but, at the moment, it was a real step up and I had to accommodate to that pace so hopefully that will hold me in good stead for the forthcoming season.”

Looking ahead to Season Eight of the Australian competition and United have recruited well in the off-season adding new defenders Emma Checker and Jenna McCormick to the roster which means added spice for a starting spot in the Champions rear-guard. Something that Brush acknowledges. 

“We haven’t had much competition in the back-line in the past and this extra competition for places is only going to be a good thing and I am really excited that we have players who are tapping on your shoulder and looking for a place in the team,” she said. “The training environment in the US was a little bit of a step up and was really professional and whilst back here you can afford to relax a little, over there, even though there is time for a giggle, there is no relaxing in training so hopefully I can bring some of that back here. I am looking forward to working with the new faces and being the best team that we can be.”

Whilst this is Brush’s eighth straight year with Canberra the talented defender was not short of overtures from other interested clubs within the league but she had no hesitation in returning to her home for another tilt at the silverware she has been lucky enough to win twice. 

“The professionalism of this club is unlike no other across Australia,” Brush commented. “It really is like a family environment here. Our supporters are great and the team has got such a good vibe around it and that hasn’t changed. I was excited with the new coaching panel coming on board and seeing Rae [Dower] step up to the head coaching role as well as the staff she has brought in. It is very exciting and I am looking forward to it.”

Canberra United begins the defence of their Westfield W-League crown on Sunday 18th October when they play Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.