Friday, May 24, 2013
By Steve Solloway firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamie Ruginski knows his team's won-loss record. The University of Southern Maine has won one of its first five soccer games.
He knows too well the score of USM's most recent game on Monday. Bowdoin, a non-conference opponent won, 8-0. "I was pretty bummed after that one. The score really didn't reflect the game. The other team got all the momentum.
"But I like our team. We're putting the skills together. I'm excited."
It's difficult to think of Ruginski when he wasn't excited. In 2009 he was one of the better high school athletes in the state. Track was his favorite sport at Bonny Eagle. He was a Class A state champ in the hurdles and triple jump. He helped his soccer team gain a spot in the Western Maine playoffs.
He went to the University of Maine and scored points consistently in the long and triple jumps. In the spring of 2010, his freshman year, Ruginski was second in the triple jump at the America East championship meet.
Then he disappeared for two years. "I wanted to see what was out there. I went to Lake Tahoe (on the California side). I snowboarded for 125 days. It was a good place to clear my mind. I loved it."
He got a job landscaping and working maintenance at a 300-unit apartment complex. "Some painting, some changing light bulbs," said Ruginski with a laugh. "It was work."
Two years after he left the University of Maine, Ruginski decided it was time to go back to college. "I thought about Division I but there really isn't a lot of scholarship money out there for track. I always liked USM. I love the campus and financially, it made a lot of sense."
He's a 21-year-old sophomore majoring in business management with a minor in health and fitness. Track is still his first love but to get ready for the indoor season he wanted to compete in the fall. He's not really a cross country runner. Soccer beckoned. He's a striker on a Mike Keller-coached team that needs to wring more goals from its offense.
"The college game is so much quicker than high school. You have seconds to decide what you're doing with the ball. We're getting there," said Ruginski. "This is still a really young team." Twenty-three of the 30 players on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores.
The USM men open their Little East Conference schedule Saturday at home against Western Connecticut State.
• Former USM Director of Athletics Dr. Richard Costello and his successor, Al Bean, are in the inaugural class of inductees to the Little East Conference Hall of Fame. Gary Fifield, the USM women's basketball coach for 22 seasons, and Ashley Marble, his dominant player through the 2003-2007 seasons, were also selected. The four will be presented with inductees from other member LEC schools Oct. 27 in Providence, R.I.
• Three USM freshmen received Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III New England recognition for their performances last week. River Plouffe Vogel of Blue Hill led the USM men at the University of New England Invitational cross country meet last weekend. Vogel finished fourth overall. Marina Davidson of Windham was noticed for her defensive play in field hockey for the second straight week. Demi Ruder of Clifton, Colo., was volleyball's rookie of the week.
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