Less than a month later, Ruiters joined her high school team for the first time and realized the No. 4 Tartans — with a fully stocked midfield — needed more help in the back.
In Tuesday’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference game at top-ranked Good Counsel, Ruiters showcased her skills at her new position. The defender shadowed senior Midge Purce throughout the contest and kept the 2011 All-Met Player of the Year off the scoreboard for the first time this season as the Tartans and Falcons battled to a scoreless draw in Olney.
“Coach [Nelson] Abreu told me in the beginning that I should stay on her,” Ruiters said. “I knew that it would be a tough challenge, but I thought if I just tried my best I could maybe hold her up a little bit.”
A day after falling to McDonogh (Baltimore), 5-4, for its first regular season loss in almost two years, Good Counsel (9-1-2, 4-1 WCAC) struggled to get clean looks at the net.
Playing without All-Met junior Imani Dorsey (concussion) for the sixth consecutive game, the Falcons largely controlled play after halftime but managed just four shots on goal in the game. Purce, who recently played with the U.S. team in the U-17 Women’s World Cup, came into the game with 14 goals in seven games this season, but she never managed to break free of the Tartan backline.
“Understand this, to have a tie and a loss right now can be good,” said Good Counsel Coach Jim Bruno, whose team entered the season ranked No. 1 in the NCSAA national poll. “What happens with these kids they get thinking, ‘We are great’ sometimes, so reality checks are good.”
Meanwhile, Holy Cross (10-0-1, 5-0-1) had three quality scoring chances in the final minutes but couldn’t crack the net against Good Counsel junior Megan Hinz.
In the 67th minute, Ruiters almost provided the offense, too. She volleyed a corner kick out of the air that Hinz had to jump to tip off the cross bar. The Michigan commit had to sprawl again quickly to bat the ball away when a teammate headed it back toward the goal line.
Ruiters hit a curling corner kick in the final minute that might have ended up in the net if Hinz didn’t punch it away. Hinz, a second-team All-Met last fall, made the last of her seven saves with less than 10 seconds left to preserve the tie.
“She’s shown all through the year that she’s ready to play at this high level,” Abreu said of Ruiters. “There’s a reason why she’s been our starting outside back since Day 1.”