Staying home pays for Chun, No. 3 River Hill

Boys soccer: Senior Brian Chun's decision against going pro in Belgium has been a major factor in the Hawks' run of success.

High Schools

October 26, 2003|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Brian Chun almost played professional soccer in Belgium this fall instead of center midfield for River Hill.

In August, Chun tried out for a Division III team in Brussels and made the reserve team after playing with it for five days.

But language problems would have meant a one-year delay in finishing his high school education, so he opted to return home.

"I'm glad I came back because everything has been going well here," he said.

River Hill is 12-1, county co-champion with Oakland Mills and ranked No. 3 by The Sun. And the senior co-captain has four goals and six assists.

A year ago, Chun suffered a broken foot that forced him to sit out the last six games, including the Hawks' Class 3A state-championship victory.

The team graduated its leaders and is much younger this season, so senior Chun has been one of those who've been counted on to bring leadership. It's a role he downplays.

"It's easy being captain here because I have such a good group of teammates who are experienced soccer players and know when to step it up," Chun said.

He and fellow center midfielder David Adams have played varsity four years, a combination of talent that not only spells success on the field, but has turned into friendship off the field.

"They work exceptionally well together," said Hawks coach Bill Stara.

The only negative for Chun so far has been a case of poison ivy that caused him to miss an important game with 3A rival Mount Hebron. But the Hawks won without him, 1-0.

He's looking forward to playing the Vikings again in the playoffs this week if both teams advance past Tuesday's quarterfinals. They would meet in the semifinals.

Despite being only 5 feet 7, 135 pounds, Chun is fearless in competing against bigger players.

"He's so quick and crafty that bigger players have a hard time getting a piece of him," Stara said. "He may be small, but he plays big. And if the system is right, a small player can flourish. You obviously don't want to play him long balls in the air.

"Every team needs some piano players and some piano movers, and he's one of the piano players."

Chun's role is to be a playmaker and provide other players opportunities to score. It's a role he enjoys.

"You set the tempo and run the show. It all depends on you," Chun said. "It's one of the key positions where you can make a big difference in the game. I like switching the ball, keeping possession and working the ball up the field."

His quickness enables him to be on or near the ball frequently throughout a game.

"He covers a great deal of space and is a nuisance to play against," Stara said. "He keeps the ball flowing from inside to outside and up to the top and makes other people look good."

Stara compares him to the center of a wagon wheel.

"He keeps us from going stagnant," Stara said.

Chun grew up right across from Centennial High and now lives in Waverly Woods, in the Mount Hebron district, but he attends River Hill as part of the tech magnet program.

He has played on several club teams, including the Bethesda Internationals with Freddie Adu, and an SAC team coached by Stara. Chun now plays for the Pikesville Shakedowns.

"I've known him since he was 5," Stara said.

Belgium wasn't the only international soccer experience Chun had last summer. In July, he spent time in Brazil training with the Santos organization.

"It was awesome to play with the Brazilians," Chun said. "There were two kids who already had pro contracts. Our dorms were in a pro stadium and we could walk out and watch them train.

"The training there was all about individual technical skills. They did different drills every day, but repeated the same drills every week so you got really good at them. It was a good training place. They were so professional about it."

He was also amazed that no matter where he went, everyone was playing soccer.

While he enjoyed experiencing the sport in other places, he's looking forward to playing college soccer in this country and has communicated with several schools, including Loyola, Delaware, Drexel and St. John's.

"Brian has taken soccer seriously and has done well for himself," Stara said.

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