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Ruston Souder made his first career start in UMBC's 12-6 loss at Stony Brook on Saturday, and the Chesapeake-AA graduate has been tabbed to start Tuesday at 7 p.m. when the Retrievers (2-5) play host to Mount St. Mary's (2-5) at UMBC Stadium.

The 5-foot-9, 165-pound sophomore made nine saves against the Seawolves, including seven in the second half during which they launched 20 of their game-high 34 shots. His debut made an impression with coach Don Zimmerman.

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"I thought Ruston played well," Zimmerman said Monday afternoon. "I thought he made some nice saves, I thought he directed the defense in a good fashion. He was excited and I think the guys in front of him responded."

Souder got the nod over redshirt sophomore Connor Gordon, who had started the first six games and posted a 9.44 goals-against average and a .509 save percentage, and freshman David Pisanic (Boys' Latin), who had played in two games and recorded a 10.12 goals-against average and a .667 save percentage.

Zimmerman said he has seen steady improvement from Souder since the preseason.

"I just think he's been steady," he said. "I think he's fundamentally sound, he has good technique, he's very, very energetic and enthusiastic. He works hard. He's put on a good 10 to 15 pounds in the weight room. He's really transformed his body over the course of the year, and I think it's really helped him."

Souder's inexperience has been offset by the presence of a veteran defense. Senior Mike Dahl and Ian Gray and junior Zach Esser have started all seven games on close defense, and the defensive midfield is led by senior long-pole Seth Mackin and a pair of short-stick defensive midfielders in senior Kevin McDonough and junior Steve Winsor.

Zimmerman said all seven players communicated well on defense.

"We rotate our goalies during practice," he said. "So he along with all of the other goalkeepers have had opportunities to work with our first defense and even if you're working with the second defense, the terminology is the same. I think the fact that we have two seniors and a junior on close defense starting in front of him and two seniors and a junior playing defensive midfield, because we have such a veteran group, I think that certainly helped in the transition."

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